GOP Reveals Plan To Reclaim Congress, Oust Nancy Pelosi As House Speaker

KEY POINTS

  • House Republicans revealed a 17-item agenda in an effort to retake control of the House in the Nov. 3 general election
  • The document details plans to restore, rebuild, and renew America on a variety of issues
  • The GOP needs to gain 34 seats in the House to unseat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

The GOP on Tuesday released 17 legislative promises in an effort to reclaim control of Congress and remove Democrat Nancy Pelosi from her position as Speaker of the House. 

The “Commitment to America” contains multiple items and resembles the eight-point Contract with America that helped the Republicans retake the House in 1994 for the first time in four decades. 

In the document, the GOP committed to defeating the coronavirus pandemic by tripling the numbers of rapid COVID testing and developing a safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year. They also promised to expand access to affordable medical services such as telemedicine, mental health programs, and opioid treatments. 

House Republicans said they want to “restore our way of life” by opposing efforts to defund the police and increasing funding to improve police training and community policing.

The document comes amid protests across the country following the August police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kensoha, Wisc.; the May killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police; and the March death of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by three plain-clothes officers serving a no-knock warrant in Louisville, Ky.

Another one of the Republicans’ pledges includes “rebuilding the greatest economy in history” by continuing the Paycheck Protection Program, extending the $2,000 child tax credit, and ending U.S. dependence on products manufactured in China.

“Republicans helped build the greatest economy in a generation, and the American way of life was thriving. We will do it again. That is our commitment to you,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said during a press release.

According to the New York Post, McCarthy is likely to be House Speaker if Republicans can win the majority of the House’s seats in the Nov. 3 general election. Currently, the Democrats have an advantage of 34 seats. The GOP currently has a four-seat advantage in the Senate.

The Republicans also promised to honor U.S. war veterans by funding the VA Choice healthcare program and expanding GI education benefits. They also pledge to strengthen the country’s military forces and secure the borders by enforcing immigration laws.

Other agenda points include a pledge to improve education by giving students school choice and investing in science, technology, and engineering education.

People register to vote during a Republican event in Brownsville, Pennsylvania People register to vote during a Republican event in Brownsville, Pennsylvania Photo: AFP / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS

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EPA postpones speaker series on racism after White House order

That includes anything “that teaches, trains or suggests the following: (1) virtually all White people contribute to racism or benefit from racism (2) critical race theory (3) white privilege (4) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country (5) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil (6) Anti-American propaganda.”

POLITICO first reported last week that the Education Department is conducting a broad review of training materials, workshops and even employee book clubs pursuant to the OMB memo.

It also follows EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s vow during a recent speech at the Nixon Library in California to heighten EPA’s focus on environmental justice in a second Trump term. Wheeler’s call for action would include greater coordination between EPA’s air, land and water offices to provide communities with a more holistic approach to environmental protection.

The Trump administration’s budgets have routinely called for slashing EPA’s environmental justice spending; this year’s proposal sought to cut $4.8 million of EPA’s $9.5 million environmental justice enforcement budget.

The hourlong EPA event, which was to have been held virtually on Tuesday afternoon, was part of a speaker series open to all EPA staff on “Structural Racism and Environmental Justice.” The series aimed to highlight “how addressing structural racism is indeed highly relevant to EPA’s mission and key to advancing the integration of EJ. The series will feature groundbreaking cutting-edge work in ways to better advance EJ by addressing structural racism.”

It would have featured Robert Nelson and LaDale Winling of the Mapping Inequality Project, a multi-university effort that visualizes how banks in the 1930s used the practice of “redlining” to keep white and black communities segregated, which has left a legacy that continues to influence the racial makeup of many communities.

Charles Lee, a senior EPA policy adviser for environmental justice, cited the OMB memo in a postponement notice sent to EPA staff and obtained by POLITICO

“Pursuant to the memorandum issued by OMB and with the expectation of more detailed guidance on implementation to be issued shortly, we are postponing this event for now,” he wrote. “Once EPA has received and had the chance to review this more detailed guidance, we will let you know about next steps regarding the EJ and Structural Racism series.”

EPA spokesperson James Hewitt said in a statement that EPA “put such training on hold” until it receives “greater clarification” from the White House.

Nelson told POLITICO in an email that he and Winling look forward to rescheduling the EPA session for a later date, and he rejected the White House’s argument that studying inequality is “un-American propaganda.”

“I think any efforts that aim to understand, explore, and act upon past injustices is exactly the opposite of ‘un-American,’ and I think I speak for all of my collaborators when I say we’re grateful that our historical work on redlining in the 1930s has been of interest and use to people doing important work like the staff of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice,” he

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Katherine Clark, who has swiftly climbed the House ranks, will run for assistant speaker

Clark officially entered what so far is a three-person field — Representatives Tony Cárdenas of California and David Cicilline of Rhode Island already are running — with a letter to her colleagues on Tuesday morning.

Clark’s swift and quiet rise up the ranks of power in the House since arriving in late 2013 has reportedly earned her the nickname “the silent assassin,” and a win could put her on a path to climb higher.

“Effective leadership is not about individual ambition,” Clark wrote in her letter, “but collective good.”

The assistant speaker position, which is held by Representative Ben Ray Luján, a New Mexico Democrat who is running for Senate, is the fourth-ranking spot in the House leadership. Clark currently holds a lower leadership position as vice chair of the Democratic caucus. She is expected to be reelected in November and Democrats are forecast to hold the House majority.

Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation have a storied history of ascending to the highest ranks of power on Capitol Hill — but nearly all of them have been men, including the eight House speakers from the state and every committee chair from Massachusetts except for Edith Nourse Rogers, a Republican who led the Veterans Affairs committee from 1947 to 1949 and 1953 to 1955.

“She would be the first woman, and have done it in the shortest amount of time — especially coming on the heels of getting elected to the district in a state that’s still woefully pitiful when it comes to electing women,” said Mary Anne Marsh, a Boston-based political consultant. “You can’t underestimate the effectiveness of Katherine Clark.”

Clark has become a prolific fund-raiser for the party. Her allies describe her as a listener more than a talker with a deep understanding of different constituencies within the Democratic caucus, a progressive from a safe blue district who spent much of the 2018 cycle traveling the country to recruit — and then to elect — members in swing districts.

“She looks out for them,” said New Hampshire Representative Annie Kuster, a Democrat from a fairly moderate district, who described Clark speaking up in leadership meetings to remind her colleagues which votes would be difficult for members in competitive districts to take.

Clark, a former state lawmaker, won a 2013 special election to fill Edward J. Markey’s House seat after he was elected to the Senate. She has made headlines at certain points in her tenure — including in 2016, when she and the late Representative John Lewis led a 25-hour sit-in on the House floor to pressure Republicans to act on gun control measures. But over the past few years, she has focused on getting new Democratic candidates elected and quietly building alliances.

Now, she’s hoping that work will draw enough loyalty from new members — as well as her longtime colleagues — to elevate her further in the House. “She’s got a whole freshman class who’s indebted to her,” Marsh said.

Representative Sylvia Garcia of Texas, a

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Vice Presidential Vacancy Isn’t Automatically Filled by House Speaker



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© Provided by FactCheck.org


Quick Take

A viral Facebook post wrongly suggests that if Joe Biden were to become president and later step down, Nancy Pelosi would become vice president. The Constitution says the vice president would become president and nominate a replacement; Congress must confirm or deny that pick.

Full Story 

The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution lays out the political ascension that occurs if a president steps down or is removed from office, in which the vice president assumes the presidency.

But a Facebook post — circulating ahead of the Sept. 17 Constitution Day, no less — is distorting the facts about what a vice presidential vacancy would mean if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden became president and later stepped down.

“Biden steps down, Harris becomes president ! Makes Pelosi vice president. Think about That one,” the text post, shared by more than 8,000 users, reads.

While it’s true that Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, would become president in that hypothetical scenario, it’s false to suggest that Nancy Pelosi — assuming she is still House speaker — would automatically become vice president.

The 25th Amendment says that: “In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.”

Its next section reads: “Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.”

So if Biden and Harris won the 2020 election and Biden stepped down after taking office, as the post hypothesizes, Harris would become president and then nominate a new vice president. And Congress would have the final say on confirming that nominee.

The 25th Amendment was approved by Congress in 1965 — not long after Vice President Lyndon Johnson became president following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — and was ratified by three-quarters of the states in 1967, according to the U.S. National Archives.

When President Richard Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in 1973, Nixon nominated House Minority Leader Gerald Ford to become vice president.

And when Nixon resigned the following year, Ford became president and nominated Nelson Rockefeller, the former governor of New York, to become vice president.

It is true, however, that under current law, if there is no president or vice president, the House speaker would be next in line for the presidency.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

“25th Amendment.” Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

Kilpatrick, Carroll. “Nixon Resigns.” Washington Post. 9 Aug 1974.

“Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, 41st Vice President (1974-1977).” U.S. Senate. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

“Presidential Succession Act.” U.S. Senate. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

“The 25th Amendment: Succession of the Presidency.” Pieces of History. U.S. National Archives. 10 Feb 2017.

The post

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Vice Presidential Vacancy Isn’t Automatically Filled by House Speaker

Quick Take

A viral Facebook post wrongly suggests that if Joe Biden were to become president and later step down, Nancy Pelosi would become vice president. The Constitution says the vice president would become president and nominate a replacement; Congress must confirm or deny that pick.


Full Story 

The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution lays out the political ascension that occurs if a president steps down or is removed from office, in which the vice president assumes the presidency.

But a Facebook post — circulating ahead of the Sept. 17 Constitution Day, no less — is distorting the facts about what a vice presidential vacancy would mean if Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden became president and later stepped down.

“Biden steps down, Harris becomes president ! Makes Pelosi vice president. Think about That one,” the text post, shared by more than 8,000 users, reads.

While it’s true that Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, would become president in that hypothetical scenario, it’s false to suggest that Nancy Pelosi — assuming she is still House speaker — would automatically become vice president.

The 25th Amendment says that: “In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.”

Its next section reads: “Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.”

So if Biden and Harris won the 2020 election and Biden stepped down after taking office, as the post hypothesizes, Harris would become president and then nominate a new vice president. And Congress would have the final say on confirming that nominee.

The 25th Amendment was approved by Congress in 1965 — not long after Vice President Lyndon Johnson became president following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — and was ratified by three-quarters of the states in 1967, according to the U.S. National Archives.

When President Richard Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in 1973, Nixon nominated House Minority Leader Gerald Ford to become vice president.

And when Nixon resigned the following year, Ford became president and nominated Nelson Rockefeller, the former governor of New York, to become vice president.

It is true, however, that under current law, if there is no president or vice president, the House speaker would be next in line for the presidency.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

“25th Amendment.” Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

Kilpatrick, Carroll. “Nixon Resigns.” Washington Post. 9 Aug 1974.

“Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, 41st Vice President (1974-1977).” U.S. Senate. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

“Presidential Succession Act.” U.S. Senate. Accessed 14 Sep 2020.

“The 25th Amendment: Succession of the Presidency.” Pieces of History. U.S. National Archives. 10 Feb 2017.

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Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard reports to jail to start prison sentence

Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard reported this afternoon to the Lee County sheriff’s office in Opelika to begin his prison sentence.

Hubbard turned himself in at 5:05 p.m., the online jail log shows.

Lance Bell, an attorney for Hubbard, said Hubbard was taken to the Russell County jail in Phenix City, where he is being held.

The Alabama Supreme Court denied Hubbard’s request for a rehearing two weeks ago, exhausting his state appeals.

Hubbard, 58, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2016 for violating the state ethics law. He has been out on appeal since.

Bell released a brief statement this evening.

“Mike Hubbard is a strong Christian man and has accepted the current situation but firmly believes in his innocence and looks forward to exploring other options to clear his name,” Bell said.

Joel Dillard, another lawyer for Hubbard, had said two weeks ago that the defense team would recommend that Hubbard file a federal appeal.

When the state Supreme Court turned down Hubbard’s request for a rehearing on August 28, the attorney general’s office said that left him with 15 days to report to jail to be turned over to the Department of Corrections.

A Lee County jury convicted Hubbard of 12 ethics violations. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld 11 of the 12. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed six of the 11 and overturned five.

Hubbard was one of Alabama’s most powerful politicians until his conviction, which automatically removed him from office.

Related: 6-year saga: Timeline of Mike Hubbard’s ethics case

Prosecutors said Hubbard used his public office to enrich himself, partly through consulting contracts.

Hubbard has maintained his innocence since his indictment in 2014 and said the transactions that led to the charges were normal business activities not related to his public office. He testified for three days during his 2016 trial.

The six convictions involved consulting contracts with three companies that paid Hubbard a total of $525,000 while he was speaker, from 2012 to 2014.

Lee County voters first elected Hubbard to the House of Representatives in 1998, a time when Democrats controlled the Legislature. They would elect him to four more four-year terms.

Hubbard became state Republican Party chair and in 2010 helped orchestrate a campaign in which the GOP took control of the Legislature for the first time in 136 years. Hubbard’s House colleagues elected him speaker, a position he retained until his conviction in 2016.

Shortly after the 2010 election, the new Republican-controlled Legislature met in a special session to put tighter restrictions in the state ethics law, fulfilling a campaign promise.

Hubbard was convicted under the enhanced law that he helped pass.

The former speaker has maintained his innocence since his indictment by a Lee County special grand jury in 2014, which led to his trial two years later.

This story was updated at 3:03 p.m. on Sept. 12 to say that Hubbard is being held at the Russell County jail in Phenix City.

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House Speaker Weekly Briefing | C-SPAN.org

In her weekly legislative briefing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) discussed the California wildfires, climate change, and coronavirus relief funding.…
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In her weekly legislative briefing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) discussed the California wildfires, climate change, and coronavirus relief funding. Speaker Pelosi also commented on President Trump’s remarks during an interview with journalists Bob Woodward on the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, telling reporters, “He hid the facts and refused to take the threat seriously leaving the entire country exposed and unprepared.” Later, she answered questions on recent changes to the U.K.’s Brexit negotiations and how it could impact trade relations with the U.S. close

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Alabama Ex-House speaker reports to begin prison sentence



FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 file photo, Mike Hubbard, former Alabama Speaker of the House, and his wife, Susan, arrive for a post trial hearing at the Lee County Justice Center in Opelika, Ala..  Mike Hubbard reported Friday, Sept. 11, 2020 to a county detention center to begin the sentence after an  unsuccessful effort to overturn his conviction. (Albert Cesare/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP, Pool)


© Provided by Associated Press
FILE – In this Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 file photo, Mike Hubbard, former Alabama Speaker of the House, and his wife, Susan, arrive for a post trial hearing at the Lee County Justice Center in Opelika, Ala.. Mike Hubbard reported Friday, Sept. 11, 2020 to a county detention center to begin the sentence after an unsuccessful effort to overturn his conviction. (Albert Cesare/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP, Pool)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, for years once of the state’s most influential politicians, reported to jail Friday to begin a prison sentence for his 2016 ethics conviction.

Hubbard reported to the Lee County Detention Center in Opelika, according to jail records, to begin his four-year sentence. The Auburn Republican was for years one of the state’s most powerful politicians until the ethics conviction in a corruption case ended his political career.

Prosecutors accused Hubbard of leveraging his powerful public office to obtain clients and investments for his businesses. His defense lawyers maintained the transactions were all aboveboard.

“Mike Hubbard is a strong Christian man and has accepted the current situation but firmly believes in his innocence and looks forward to exploring other options to clear his name,” attorney Lance Bell said.

A jury in 2016 convicted Hubbard of 12 counts of violating the state ethics law, but six were overturned on appeal. The Alabama Supreme Court last month refused to reconsider the case.

The Alabama attorney general’s office said Hubbard had until Saturday to report to the jail to be processed and turned over to the Department of Corrections.

He had been free on appeal since his 2016 conviction as he unsuccessfully fought to completely overturn his conviction.

Attorney David McKnight said they are considering additional appeals or asking a judge to reduce his sentence since some counts have been overturned.

Hubbard, the architect of the GOP’s takeover of the Alabama Legislature in 2010, was a legislator from Auburn and former chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. He was elected House speaker soon after the Republicans won control of both legislative chambers.

Hubbard was automatically removed from office after his 2016 felony conviction.

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U.S. House Speaker Pelosi voices optimism about passing coronavirus aid bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday said she was optimistic about Congress passing coronavirus relief legislation before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

“I’m optimistic. I do think that we should have an agreement,” Pelosi said in a CNN interview. “That’s what we all want.”

The U.S. Senate on Thursday killed a Republican bill that would have provided around $300 billion in new coronavirus aid, as Democrats seeking far more funding – around $3 trillion – prevented it from advancing.

Pelosi said she was proud to see Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer “reject that terrible skinny bill to a massive problem that we have.”

She did not refer to any planned negotiations with the White House or congressional Republican leaders on a new bill.

President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has become a focus of the 2020 presidential race, in which he trails Democratic rival Joe Biden in several opinion polls. The pandemic has led to the deaths of more than 190,000 people in the United States and more than 910,000 worldwide.

Earlier this year, Congress rapidly passed four bills providing about $3 trillion to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The Democratic-controlled House passed a fifth bill in May that would provide another $3 trillion in aid, but the Republican-led Senate did not take it up.

The Republican bill defeated on Thursday would have renewed a federal unemployment benefit, but at a lower level than Democrats sought. It also would have set new protections for businesses against lawsuits during the pandemic.

Other initiatives – including aid to state and local governments, a second round of direct payments to households, and bailouts for airlines – were not addressed in the Republican bill.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Jan Wolfe; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool)

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Special legislative committee begins rarely used disciplinary proceeding to look into conduct of House Speaker Michael Madigan

The Illinois House kicked off a rarely used disciplinary process Thursday to probe the conduct of Speaker Michael Madigan in light of allegations that Commonwealth Edison undertook a bribery scheme to gain his favor, with Republicans seeking to hear testimony from the powerful Democrat and former utility executives and lobbyists.

House Republican leader Jim Durkin, who petitioned for the probe, asked the six-member panel to decide whether to authorize a charge against Madigan for engaging “in conduct unbecoming to a legislator, or which constitutes a breach of public trust… including engaging in a bribery scheme and extortion scheme, conspiracy to violate federal and state laws, among other misconduct and misuse of the office.”

ComEd this summer agreed to pay a $200 million fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors who alleged the utility engaged in a “yearslong bribery scheme” by offering jobs and other inducements to allies of Madigan.

Madigan, the nation’s longest serving speaker and the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing.

The special committee is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans, and partisan differences were quickly felt.

Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a Democrat from Hillside who chairs the committee, said the panel’s first task is to reach out to the U.S. attorney’s office to ensure the legislative committee’s effort doesn’t interfere with ongoing federal probe.

Durkin’s petition to form the committee invoked the House’s rarely used Rule 91, which was most recently triggered last year after then-Democratic state Rep. Luis Arroyo was charged with one count of federal program bribery. Arroyo resigned before that special investigating committee held its first meeting.

In 2012, the process advanced much further in the case of then-state Rep. Derrick Smith. The full House voted overwhelmingly to oust him from his seat after he was indicted on charges he accepted a $7,000 bribe.

That process, which started with a special investigating committee, should set the precedent for the present panel’s work, Welch said.

“We have very little precedent to go by. I have studied the Derrick Smith transcripts all weekend long and we’re going to follow precedent. And we have to make sure we contact the U.S. attorney’s office and get a response before this committee can do any work further,” Welch said.

Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, a Republican from Elmhurst, suggested Welch’s proposal was an effort to bring the proceedings to a halt, and that there’s a “whole host of work” the committee can do independently of the U.S. attorney’s office.

“No one said anything about halting the work of the committee, but we are going to reach out to the U.S. attorney’s office and make contact first,” Welch said. “There will be nothing further until then.”

A majority vote of the committee is needed to authorize a charge against Madigan, meaning it would require the support of at least one Democrat. If a majority was achieved in favor of charges, a 12-member disciplinary panel would decide whether

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