Sen. Mitt Romney Tests Positive for COVID-19

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Sen. Mitt Romney Tests Positive for COVID-19 Sen. Mitt Romney Tests Positive for COVID-19 (Greg Nash/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

By Luca Cacciatore | Friday, 28 January 2022 10:25 PM

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, his office said in a statement.

"Senator Romney tested positive today for COVID-19. He is currently asymptomatic and will be isolating and working remotely for the recommended period of time," his office said. "Mrs. Romney has tested negative. Both Senator and Mrs. Romney have been fully vaccinated and boosted against the virus."

Romney recently criticized the Biden administration for failing to ramp up testing availability ahead of the omicron variant, according to Deseret News.

"I think, unfortunately, the administration was wrong in not building testing capacity at a time when we all thought COVID was going away," the Utah senator said in a Senate hearing.

"Because I think a lot of individuals, myself included, get tested when there's no indication that I need to get tested, other than to just want to make sure I'm not sick," he added. "There's huge demand for tests which are in short supply, in part because of that," he said.

Several lawmakers in Congress have tested positive for the virus since the delta variant last summer — almost all have been vaccinated, The Hill reported.

Among them are Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Ben Cline, R-Va., John Katko, R-N.Y., Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb.

Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the White House, said earlier this week that most states would see a peak in COVID-19 cases in mid-February.

"You never want to be overconfident when you're dealing with this virus," Fauci said on ABC's "This Week." "But if you look at the patterns that we've seen in South Africa, in the U.K., and in Israel … they have peaked and [are] starting to come down rather sharply."

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Pelosi Won’t ‘Subscribe’ to Progressives’ Senate BBB Vote Deadline

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Pelosi Won't 'Subscribe' to Progressives' Senate BBB Vote Deadline Pelosi Won't 'Subscribe' to Progressives' Senate BBB Vote Deadline (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By Charles Kim | Friday, 28 January 2022 10:10 PM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday that she "wouldn't subscribe" to the Congressional Progressive Caucus March 1 deadline for a Senate vote on the "Build Back Better" bill.

"We will pass the bill when we have the votes to pass the bill, and we cannot stop pressing for that," The Hill reported Pelosi said Friday during an event promoting the recently passed $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill at San Fransisco International Airport. "We have a number of pieces of legislation that we're working on, but the ['Build Back Better'] is absolutely essential. I hope that they're right. I don't subscribe to any particular date."

During her remarks at the airport, which is scheduled to get around $49 million as part of the bipartisan infrastructure deal signed by President Joe Biden earlier this year, Pelosi called the March 1 deadline urged by progressives in the House "an aspiration."

Progressive caucus leader Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., called on the Senate Thursday to get the budget reconciliation bill containing many key Democratic and progressive agenda items passed by March 1 before President Joe Biden gives his annual State of the Union address.

"In the months since negotiations around the Build Back Better Act stalled, the case for this legislation has only become more urgent," Jayapal, who chairs the group of liberal lawmakers on Capitol Hill, wrote in the Thursday statement to The Hill.

"There is agreement among Senate Democrats on significant parts of this bill: climate action, the care economy, taking on Big Pharma's price gouging, and lowering healthcare costs. There is agreement on the need to reduce rising costs facing ordinary Americans — and that is exactly what Build Back Better does."

The legislation passed the House in December but is stalled in the Senate by two Democratic members of the upper chamber.

Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, oppose the almost $2 trillion bill that includes expanded healthcare and child care, as well as free college tuition and several elements to battle climate change.

For the bill to pass the Senate, it must have all 48 Democrats and two independents on board, reaching a 50-50 tie with Republicans who all oppose the bill.

Vice President Kamala Harris could then cast the tie-breaking vote and send the legislation to Biden for his signature.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that the Biden administration would be patient, rather than try to make the March 1 deadline set by progressives.

"No, we have not set a deadline. No," The Hill reported Psaki said on Wednesday.

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Wisconsin Denies Efforts to Block Drop Boxes in Municipal Primary

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Wisconsin Denies Efforts to Block Drop Boxes in Municipal Primary Wisconsin Denies Efforts to Block Drop Boxes in Municipal Primary

Voters drop mail-in ballots in an official ballot box on Oct. 20, 2020, outside the Tippecanoe branch library in Milwaukee. In a 4-3 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed 4-3 on Friday to allow the use of drop boxes in the state's next municipal primary election on Feb. 15. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Luca Cacciatore | Friday, 28 January 2022 09:40 PM

The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed 4-3 on Friday to allow the use of drop boxes in the state's next municipal primary election on Feb. 15, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The judges did unanimously agree, however, to take the decision on the legality of drop boxes, which will determine the rules for the fall elections for governor and U.S. senator.

"As a general rule, this court should not muddy the waters during an ongoing election," Justice Brian Hagedorn, elected in 2019 mainly by conservative Republicans, wrote in his concurring opinion.

Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote in dissent to the decision to let drop boxes be used in the Feb. 15 election, taking shots at Hagedorn's opinion.

"Astonishingly, Justice Hagedorn says it doesn't matter whether the circuit court properly denied a stay of its order or not; apparently, once again, it's simply too close to the election to undo the court of appeals' mistake," she wrote.

"In Wisconsin, there is always an impending election. Under the logic of his concurrence, (the Wisconsin Elections Commission) may declare the rules as it wishes, the court of appeals may disregard the law when it wishes, and the majority will do nothing in response."

The decision from the state Supreme Court comes after the District 4 Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that immediately barring drop boxes would complicate the Feb. 15 primary, reversing a Waukesha judge's order.

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Sen. Ron Johnson to Newsmax: US Response to COVID ‘a Miserable Failure’

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Sen. Ron Johnson to Newsmax: US Response to COVID 'a Miserable Failure' (Newsmax/''Eric Bolling: The Balance'')

By Charles Kim | Friday, 28 January 2022 08:51 PM

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told Newsmax on Friday that the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been ''a miserable failure.''

''Almost 900,000 lives lost in the last two years — the human toll of the economic devastation. How can anybody take a look at our response to COVID and call it a success,'' Johnson said on ''Eric Bolling: The Balance.''

''It's been a miserable failure, and yet the mainstream media are attacking doctors that have actually treated patients and they're still relying on the Faucis of the world that have failed us so miserably,'' referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the president.

Johnson hosted a forum on Monday called ''COVID-19: A Second Opinion,'' which invited a group of medical experts to the Senate for the five-hour event.

The experts presented alternative perspectives on the pandemic and how the U.S. and other nations responded, as well as treatments and the effectiveness of the available vaccines.

The video of the lengthy conference on the video platform Rumble has had more than 1.4 million views.

Johson said Friday that the media and government health experts dropped the ball in responding to the virus and could have reacted in a way that would have been ''more rational'' and less deadly by listening to physicians and medical experts who were actually treating patients with the disease.

''Our response to COVID should have been, could have been, far more rational, far less divisive,'' he said. ''And the coronavirus itself should have been far less deadly, had we robustly explored early treatment, and allowed doctors to practice medicine. That is what the takeaway from that a second opinion event really should be.''

Johnson said the forum relayed important information on the pandemic but was not covered by the mainstream media.

''What the mainstream media has been doing covering this is they've been attacking me,'' he said. ''They've been attacking these doctors, that again, have had the courage and compassion to actually treat COVID [patients].''

Johnson said that instead of listening to doctors and others with different opinions, the media have tried to make them the bad guys and shut down what they are saying.

''This is a scandal, how we've treated COVID,'' he said. ''How we have censored, we've suppressed, we vilified these doctors, again, that have had the courage, and compassion to actually treat COVID patients. I put my faith in those types of people.''

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Trump Commends Pennsylvania Ruling Invalidating Mail-in Ballot Law

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Trump Commends Pennsylvania Ruling Invalidating Mail-in Ballot Law Trump Commends Pennsylvania Ruling Invalidating Mail-in Ballot Law (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Luca Cacciatore | Friday, 28 January 2022 08:45 PM

Former President Donald Trump praised in a statement on Friday the ruling of a Pennsylvania court that declared the state's mail-in voting law violated the Pennsylvania Constitution, Mediaite reported.

''BIG news out of Pennsylvania! The practice of no-excuse mail-in ballots, put in place by Democrats right before the stolen 2020 Election, has been ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court,'' the president wrote through his political action committee Save America PAC.

''Here is the key question: If widespread mail-in balloting is unconstitutional in Pennsylvania now, how could mail-in balloting have been constitutional in the RIGGED 2020 Presidential Election then?'' he continued.

''We all know the answer—it wasn't! All American Patriots are thanking the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania for having the courage to do the right thing!''

Act 77, which allows voters to cast ballots through the mail up to 50 days before Election Day, was passed by the state's General Assembly in 2019 and signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

But in a 3-2 decision on Friday, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that the bill violates the state constitution.

''If presented to the people, a constitutional amendment to end Article VII, Section 1 requirement of in-person voting is likely to be adopted,'' Commonwealth Court President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt wrote.

''But a constitutional amendment must be presented to the people and adopted into our fundamental law before legislation allowing no-excuse mail-in voting can be placed upon our statute books.''

Pennsylvania has filed an appeal, meaning that the law will remain in effect until the state Supreme Court hears the case, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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Texas AG Paxton: Biden WH ‘Knows Exactly What They’re Doing’ on Immigration

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Texas AG Paxton: Biden WH 'Knows Exactly What They're Doing' on Immigration (Newsmax/''Spicer & Co.'')

By Luca Cacciatore | Friday, 28 January 2022 08:02 PM

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told Newsmax on Friday that the Biden administration knows exactly what they are doing regarding reports of them ignoring immigrants entering the country illegally, according to the New York Post.

"They clearly don't want people to know what they're doing," Paxton, a Republican, told "Spicer & Co." "I know from law enforcement in Texas that they watch people come in on buses — illegal immigrants at night — and they get off the bus, and they just disappear," he continued.

"And that's going on all over the country, and for those who think that only border states are going to have to deal with this as we go forward, whether it's, you know, COVID or social costs of having illegal immigrants in your state, this is going to be a nationwide problem and nationwide epidemic."

Paxton added that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a fellow Republican, attempted to institute a program against the transportation of immigrants who have entered the U.S. illegally. But the state was sued by the Biden administration and has an injunction against it to prevent the program from being carried out.

"Even though we're winning those cases, the Biden administration is not only ignoring federal law, but now they're ignoring all court orders, and they are doing whatever they want," Paxton said.

The two-term attorney general is seeking a third term for the position in 2022 against notable candidates such as George P. Bush, the eldest child of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Rep. Louie Gohmert; and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, according to The Texas Tribune.

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McCarthy Reportedly Turns to Gingrich for 2022 Midterm Strategy

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McCarthy Reportedly Turns to Gingrich for 2022 Midterm Strategy McCarthy Reportedly Turns to Gingrich for 2022 Midterm Strategy (Domenico Stinellis/AP)

By Nicole Wells | Friday, 28 January 2022 06:48 PM

Looking to win big in November, the GOP is seeking advice from "the grandfather of House Republicans," who swept it back into power nearly three decades ago after a 40-year drought. Never shy about sharing ideas, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is more than happy to help.

Gingrich told Insider that "the total failure of the left is driving people our way in a very encouraging way." If that shift continues, the veteran culture warrior predicted 2022 could be "the most catastrophic election for Democrats since 1920," when Republicans won their largest number of seats ever.

As Gingrich sees it, Republicans have a two-part obligation as they fight to regain control.

"One is to communicate that big government socialism doesn't work and can't," he told Insider. "And the other is to communicate what we would do."

The co-author of "Contract with America," which conservatives rallied around during the Clinton years, Gingrich has reportedly been advising House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

"McCarthy is trying to create a wave and elect 30 to 35 new Republicans," Scott Reed, a veteran GOP strategist, said of the final obstacle to fulfilling the California Republican's lifelong dream of becoming speaker.

That's where Gingrich comes in. Reed said the 10-term former lawmaker and 2012 presidential hopeful remains in constant contact with "people from CEO-level down to party activists."

McCarthy adviser and former Gingrich spokesman Mike Shields said his former boss will gladly give advice to anyone who will listen.

"There's times when he'll send a note to five members of the House and Senate leadership with an idea that he has, or something that he thinks they should focus on," Shields told Insider. "And it's received well because this is … the grandfather of House Republicans that's offering up his wisdom."

Adopting positions Republican governors have taken on polarizing issues such as banning critical race theory, rejecting pandemic-related mask mandates, and enacting voting restrictions ahead of the next election would be a good place to start, several GOP strategists said.

Jim Moran, a former Democratic House member, said House Republicans should be careful what they wish for.

"My guess is that Newt's 21st-century contract is going to over-promise things that they can't deliver," he said. "And some things that the American people aren't going to want them to deliver. It's mostly going to be reactionary."

After winning his first congressional race in 1978 and spending some time in Washington, the former history professor helped author the career-defining "Contract with America" — a political sales pitch that helped Republicans recapture the house in 1994 after 40 years of Democratic rule.

In striking the symbolic agreement with the nation, House Republicans pledged to put 10 bills up for a vote in the 104th Congress if the public returned them to power. The priorities then included making numerous tax cuts, cracking down on crime, reducing welfare programs and imposing congressional term limits, among others.

Working on drafting a new "10 commandments" for House Republicans ahead of the midterms, freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Giménez of Florida told Insider that "it sounds very similar to the Contract with America."

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Allen West to Newsmax: Progressive Crime Policies Result in ‘Lawlessness’

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Allen West to Newsmax: Progressive Crime Policies Result in 'Lawlessness' (Newsmax/''Eric Bolling: The Balance'')

By Charles Kim | Friday, 28 January 2022 06:45 PM

Allen West, a Texas GOP gubernatorial candidate and former state Republican Party chairman, told Newsmax on Friday that progressive crime policies are leading to a rise in ''lawlessness'' and the ''complete breakdown'' of the country.

''You see a complete breakdown of the rule of law, and law and order here in Texas, and New York, and all across the United States of America, and it's because of the policies of [the] progressive, socialist left,'' West said on ''Eric Bolling: The Balance.''

''I don't know what it's going to take. How many murders, or how much lack of safety security, but the policies of the left, this chaos, and this confusion, this lawlessness, it's not working for Americans is not working for Texas,'' he said.

West, a military veteran and former member of Congress, blamed policies such as judicial activism and bail reform for rising crime in Texas, where the state capital, Austin, now has the third highest homicide rate in the nation.

West said that if elected governor, he would hold judges accountable for letting criminals back out on the street with a promise to appear so they can commit other crimes.

''As governor of Texas, I would use that [State Constitution] Article 15, Section 8, to hold accountable these judges that are releasing these criminals,'' he said. ''We have the same problem here in Texas, and Dallas County, Travis County, Harris County, which is Houston, and also Bexar County. We have these district attorneys that were supported by George Soros, and he did that across the United States of America.''

West also pointed to the lack of enforcement of immigration law at the southern border, where record numbers of migrants have entered the United States illegally, only to be detained briefly, then transported around the nation.

''The law is not being upheld, and the criminals understand that, just the same as being down here on the border, [the left-kwingers] don't want to secure the border,'' he said. ''In Brownsville, Texas, all of these single, military-age males were released and allowed to travel all across the United States of America.''

West is among eight other Republicans challenging Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in the March 1 primary, with the winner going on to the November general election.

Former presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is among the five Democrats seeking that party's nomination in the primary, according to Ballotpedia.

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Winter Storm to Blast US Northeast with Blizzard-Like Conditions

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Winter Storm to Blast US Northeast with Blizzard-Like Conditions Winter Storm to Blast US Northeast with Blizzard-Like Conditions A worker at Woodside Ace Hardware uses a tractor to move bags of ice melt as customers deplete supplies in preparation for the oncoming nor'easter storm in Winthrop, Massachusetts on January 28, 2022. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty)

Reuters Friday, 28 January 2022 06:36 PM

A powerful Nor'easter storm is expected to hammer parts of New England and the Middle Atlantic region this weekend with blizzard-like conditions that will make travel treacherous and bring flooding to coastal areas.

Blizzard, winter storm and winter weather advisories and warnings were in effect from the Carolinas up through Pennsylvania and New York and into Maine where snow was forecast to start falling Friday afternoon and continue on Saturday, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

"It will make travel pretty much impossible," said Patrick O'Hara, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in New Jersey. "It is the first very big storm of the year. Every few years we get one, it's not extremely unusual."

Many parts of the region can expect 1 to 2 feet (30-60 cm) of snow and wind gusts of 70 miles (113 km) per hour, the weather service said.

Boston, the most populous city in New England with 700,000 residents, could get at least a foot of snow while New York City, the nation's biggest metropolis, may see nine inches of snow, forecasters said.

The weather service warned that blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility and strong winds could bring down tree branches and knock out power in parts of the region.

Some parts of coastal Atlantic were also facing the possibility of flooding in low-lying areas and vulnerable roadways, the NWS said.

The storm system will push temperatures down. Highs will range from 15 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit below average across the eastern third of the U.S. on Saturday.

Former Trump Press Aide Subpoenaed in Congress Probe of U.S. Capitol Attack

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Former Trump Press Aide Subpoenaed in Congress Probe of U.S. Capitol Attack Former Trump Press Aide Subpoenaed in Congress Probe of U.S. Capitol Attack (Getty Images)

Friday, 28 January 2022 06:04 PM

The U.S. House of Representatives committee probing the deadly Capitol riot last year has issued a subpoena for Judd Deere, who served as one of former President Donald Trump's communications aides, CNN reported on Friday.

The committee is seeking documents and a deposition next month from Deere, who helped with "formulating (the) White House's response to the January 6 attack as it occurred," CNN reported, citing a letter accompanying the subpoena.

Deere was the main conduit between Trump's communications team and that of President Joe Biden in the transition period leading up to Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021. He was the last press spokesman in the West Wing when Trump departed that day.

Deere was not immediately reachable for comment.

Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after he repeated to a nearby rally his false claims that his election defeat was the result of widespread fraud.

Earlier this month, the House committee subpoenaed Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, along with two other Trump attorneys.

Original Article

Survey: Travelers Less Worried About Omicron Surge Than About Delta

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Survey: Travelers Less Worried About Omicron Surge Than About Delta Airplane An airplane takes off. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

By Luca Cacciatore | Friday, 28 January 2022 05:52 PM

A survey conducted by FinanceBuzz indicates that although travel is slowing due to a global surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant, travelers are less concerned about traveling now than during the delta variant surge.

The survey found that 43% of U.S. adults canceled plans during the initial outbreak of COVID in May 2020, 35% during the delta variant in August 2021, and only 31% during omicron in January of this year.

Nearly 31% of respondents, however, said they would be "much less likely" to fly if mask mandates ended on airplanes, an 8-point increase since the delta variant lastAugust.

The most significant concern for international travelers was getting COVID-19 while abroad and needing to quarantine at 41%, beating out needing medical care at 34%, flight cancellations at 34%, restrictions affecting plans at 33%, mask mandates at 25% and vaccine mandates at 23%.

Among the suggestions FinanceBuzz gives to travelers concerned about COVID-19 are to book refundable options, use points and miles, be flexible with where and when, use travel credit cards with insurance, and buy travel insurance that covers pandemics.

FinanceBuzz surveyed 1,000 to 1,500 U.S. adults aged 18 or older, who constitution a nationally representative sample, on May 12, 2020, Aug. 5, 2021, and Jan. 12.

Jan. 6 Panel Demands Testimony About Alternate Electors Plan

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Jan. 6 Panel Demands Testimony About Alternate Electors Plan Jan. 6 Panel Demands Testimony About Alternate Electors Plan A surveillance camera stands near the East Front of the U.S. Capitol at sunset on January 5, 2022 in Washington, DC. Congress is preparing to mark the one year anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot on Thursday. (Drew Angerer/Getty)

Reuters Friday, 28 January 2022 05:39 PM

The U.S. congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol has issued subpoenas to several individuals involved in an unsuccessful "alternate electors" scheme to keep former President Donald Trump in office, the panel's chairman said on Friday.

The 14 relatively unknown individuals receiving subpoenas included David Shafer and Michael McDonald, the chairmen of the Georgia Republican Party and the Nevada Republican Party, respectively. Shafer and McDonald did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Republican Party operatives were asked to provide documents and sit for deposition interviews in the coming weeks.

The U.S. president is selected by 538 electors who are apportioned based on each state's population.

Officials on Donald Trump's 2020 campaign, led by his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, oversaw efforts to put forward illegitimate elector certifications from seven states that the former president lost, CNN reported last week.

The U.S. Justice Department is also investigating the certifications, which Trump's allies sent to the National Archives in December 2020.

"We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme," committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat, said in a statement.

The Select Committee has spoken to about 400 witnesses and has issued dozens of subpoenas.

The committee is aiming to release an interim report in the summer and a final report in the fall, a source familiar with the investigation said last month.

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Rep. Bacon to Newsmax: Biden Admin Should Be More Proactive in Deterring Putin, Russia

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Rep. Bacon to Newsmax: Biden Admin Should Be More Proactive in Deterring Putin, Russia (Newsmax/"American Agenda")

By Solange Reyner | Friday, 28 January 2022 05:22 PM

The Biden administration has been too slow to respond to the Ukraine-Russia conflict and should be more proactive in deterring Russian President Vladimir Putin, Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., told Newsmax Friday.

"We had three planeloads of weapons arrive to Ukraine last week. What bothers me is that we've been knowing about this crisis for two months," Bacon told Newsmax TV's "American Agenda."

"Finally last week the first arrival of United States lethal weapons arrived. This administration has been slow, too slow to respond, and if you peel the onion back it all goes back to Afghanistan where the world and our adversaries saw weakness. Right now, Putin is trying to push us around. But the administration has been very timid in trying to get these weapons and give the means for Ukraine to be able to defend themselves. Two months of discussions is too long."

Bacon, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. needs deterrence to stop Russia.

"It should be all about deterrence. Our intelligence community, they think the Russians have decided to attack. If that is the case, we need to change their opinion. And we do that by giving Ukraine the amount of weapons they need to defend themselves. We want to give Ukrainians the ability to kill their tanks, shoot down their aircrafts, sink their ships in the Black Sea. We want to change the calculus that President Putin is seeing," Bacon added.

"His goal is to get concessions from America and NATO — they want assurances that Ukraine will never be part of NATO, they want us to pull our forces out of the Baltics, which is a nonstarter, they want us to pull our forces out of Poland. They're trying to get concessions using ultimatums and we can't be pushed around, but they think they can because we have a president they perceive as weak."

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday the buildup of Russian forces along Ukraine's border has reached the point where Putin now has a complete range of military options, including actions short of a full-scale invasion.

"While we don't believe that President Putin has made a final decision to use these forces against Ukraine, he clearly now has the capability," Austin told a Pentagon news conference.

In Moscow, the Kremlin said Putin told French President Emmanuel Macron that the West has failed to take Russian security concerns into account, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a radio interviewer that Russia doesn't want war but sees no room for compromise on its demands.

Bacon also slammed the Democratic-controlled government for not putting the annual defense bill on the floor.

"What that does is — we've done a continuing resolution which means we're spending in our defense community last year's budget at the same rate, so we've made no adjustments. For example, pay raises for the troops, you're paying last year's rate, not this year's rate. … All these things we want to do to make improvements you're not allowed to do it until that appropriations bill is passed. … This is hurting our military. We're in neutral right now. China's not neutral, Russia's not neutral, so this is hurting us as a superpower."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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Former Ukrainian Diplomat Volker to Newsmax: Ukrainian Invasion ‘Costly Endeavor’ For Russia

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Former Ukrainian Diplomat Volker to Newsmax: Ukrainian Invasion 'Costly Endeavor' For Russia (Newsmax/"American Agenda")

By Charles Kim | Friday, 28 January 2022 05:12 PM

Former Ukrainian diplomat Kurt Volker told Newsmax on Friday that it would be a "costly endeavor" for Russia to invade and try and take over the Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian president does not want to appear weak or show weakness to the Ukrainian people. He needs to show strength and resolve," Volker said on "American Agenda." "I also think that he's right that Russia would not be able to take over the entire country and defeat Ukraine and reoccupy the whole thing. It would be too much for Russia to do that. I agreed that a Russian attack against Ukraine is likely, but I also believe that Ukraine has a lot of strength and resilience and will make that a very costly endeavor for Russia."

Volker, who served as ambassador to NATO, and a voluntary special representative for Ukraine under the administration of former President Donald Trump, said Russian President Vladimir Putin has been very clear on what he wants as he masses an estimated 100,000 troops along the Russian-Ukrainian border.

"Putin has actually said what he wants, which is he wants to restrict Ukraine's sovereignty and be sure that they can never become a member of NATO," Volker said. "[He wants to] see NATO military equipment rolled back away from central and east European states that have long become members of NATO. He also has seized Crimea already illegally from Ukraine, and he would like to connect that territory of Crimea directly to the Russian mainland by land. So, I think he has a lot of objectives in mind, and he's been pretty clear about them."

He also said that the Ukrainian government is worried that this tension-filled international situation could lead to decisions being made by Russia and the United States without them being consulted, even though they are the nation facing invasion and ground zero for the crisis.

In a post on Twitter, Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that he wants to make sure Ukraine is in the loop with both the United States and Russia before any agreement is reached.

"We had seen the written response of the U.S. before it was handed over to Russia," his post read. "No objections on the Ukrainian side. Important that the U.S. remains in close contact with Ukraine before and after all contacts with Russia. No decisions on Ukraine without Ukraine. Golden rule."

Volker agreed that the needs of Ukraine must be considered during this time.

"We are talking about 40 million people, a sovereign state," Volker said. "It's their country, not ours. We want to help them, but we should be putting their interests upfront and talking to them first."

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Biden Visits Collapsed Bridge, Touts Infrastructure Law

getfile.aspxguidA6D99599 5312 4389 A6C9 86EBE2B32D95

Biden Visits Collapsed Bridge, Touts Infrastructure Law Biden Visits Collapsed Bridge, Touts Infrastructure Law

President Joe Biden visits the site where the Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed Friday in Pittsburgh's East End. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

COLLEEN LONG, STEVE PEOPLES and MARC LEVY Friday, 28 January 2022 03:50 PM

Arriving just hours after a Pennsylvania bridge collapse, President Joe Biden stared into the cratered muddy earth where the aging span fell early Friday, striking evidence supporting the $1 trillion infrastructure law he already had planned to tout on his trip to Pittsburgh.

Standing before concrete barriers papered with yellow police tape, Biden craned his neck to look out over the expanse left by the crumbled bridge. He spoke with Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and first responders at the scene, and was joined by Sen. Bob Casey, Rep. Conor Lamb and Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

“The idea that we’ve been so far behind on infrastructure for so many years, it’s mind boggling,” Biden said.

As for the rest of the nation’s aging bridges, he pledged, “We’re gonna fix them all.”

The bridge collapse — which caused no fatalities but prompted rescuers to form a human chain to retrieve people from a precariously perched bus — offered Biden a striking example of what he has declared is an urgent need for investments in the country's infrastructure.

The steel span was built in 1970, and a 2019 inspection revealed the deck and superstructure to be in poor condition, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Bridge Inventory.

The infrastructure law signed by Biden has earmarked about $1.6 billion for Pennsylvania bridge maintenance, with tens of billions more for public transit, highway maintenance and broadband internet expansion in the state.

During his visit, Biden toured a manufacturing research and development center before delivering remarks promoting economic progress during his first year in office and the investments his administration has helped foster in manufacturing jobs. He was also calling on Congress to pass new legislation aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness with China and investing billions to support supply chain resilience and semiconductor chip research and manufacturing.

Friday's trip was an opening step in a broader campaign to promote White House achievements in key states before the midterm elections. It brought Biden, a Pennsylvania native, home to one of the top-targeted states this cycle. The Pennsylvania battle to replace Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is not seeking reelection, is expected to be one of the most competitive Senate races this year.

But at least one of the three leading Democrats on Pennsylvania's statewide ballot this spring who were invited to appear with Biden didn't attend.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the likely Democratic nominee in the race for governor, was absent because of scheduling conflicts, according to his spokesperson. Fetterman, the lieutenant governor and a leading Senate candidate, originally had no plans to attend because of a scheduling conflict, but did appear with Biden at the bridge and later at his speech.

Fetterman said in an interview that he was on his way to the gym when he heard about the collapse, and went to the bridge — still in his gym shorts — meeting the president, whom he applauded for visiting the site. The White House asked if he’d like to be with Biden there, and he said, “Absolutely. I’m coming.”

Still, the high-profile absence comes as Democrats in other states have begun taking modest steps to distance themselves from the first-term president, whose approval ratings have fallen sharply in recent months. And while Shapiro's team indicated that politics had no bearing on his schedule, their decisions to avoid Biden, particularly in his home state, could fuel further questions among anxious Democratic candidates elsewhere as they decide whether to embrace the struggling president.

Earlier in the month, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, a leading candidate for governor in another swing state, skipped a chance to appear with the president in the state, citing an unspecified scheduling conflict. Last week, Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke said he didn't need the Democratic president's assistance in his campaign for governor.

The White House announced Biden’s trip on Monday after the president said last week he would look to get out of Washington more in the second year of his presidency.

Biden, who has seen his poll numbers sink in the midst of an unrelenting pandemic and high inflation, said it was important that he “go out and talk to the public” about what he’s accomplished and about why Congress needs to get behind the rest of his domestic agenda.

While in Pittsburgh, Biden will focus on the economy, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

“He'll be talking about how far we’ve come in getting our economy moving again, making more right here in America, and ensuring all workers benefit,” Psaki told reporters at the White House on Thursday.

Original Article

Biden Visits Collapsed Bridge, Touts Infrastructure Law

getfile.aspxguidA6D99599 5312 4389 A6C9 86EBE2B32D95 1

Biden Visits Collapsed Bridge, Touts Infrastructure Law Biden Visits Collapsed Bridge, Touts Infrastructure Law

President Joe Biden visits the site where the Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed Friday in Pittsburgh's East End. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

COLLEEN LONG, STEVE PEOPLES and MARC LEVY Friday, 28 January 2022 03:50 PM

Arriving just hours after a Pennsylvania bridge collapse, President Joe Biden stared into the cratered muddy earth where the aging span fell early Friday, striking evidence supporting the $1 trillion infrastructure law he already had planned to tout on his trip to Pittsburgh.

Standing before concrete barriers papered with yellow police tape, Biden craned his neck to look out over the expanse left by the crumbled bridge. He spoke with Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and first responders at the scene, and was joined by Sen. Bob Casey, Rep. Conor Lamb and Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

“The idea that we’ve been so far behind on infrastructure for so many years, it’s mind boggling,” Biden said.

As for the rest of the nation’s aging bridges, he pledged, “We’re gonna fix them all.”

The bridge collapse — which caused no fatalities but prompted rescuers to form a human chain to retrieve people from a precariously perched bus — offered Biden a striking example of what he has declared is an urgent need for investments in the country's infrastructure.

The steel span was built in 1970, and a 2019 inspection revealed the deck and superstructure to be in poor condition, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Bridge Inventory.

The infrastructure law signed by Biden has earmarked about $1.6 billion for Pennsylvania bridge maintenance, with tens of billions more for public transit, highway maintenance and broadband internet expansion in the state.

During his visit, Biden toured a manufacturing research and development center before delivering remarks promoting economic progress during his first year in office and the investments his administration has helped foster in manufacturing jobs. He was also calling on Congress to pass new legislation aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness with China and investing billions to support supply chain resilience and semiconductor chip research and manufacturing.

Friday's trip was an opening step in a broader campaign to promote White House achievements in key states before the midterm elections. It brought Biden, a Pennsylvania native, home to one of the top-targeted states this cycle. The Pennsylvania battle to replace Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is not seeking reelection, is expected to be one of the most competitive Senate races this year.

But at least one of the three leading Democrats on Pennsylvania's statewide ballot this spring who were invited to appear with Biden didn't attend.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the likely Democratic nominee in the race for governor, was absent because of scheduling conflicts, according to his spokesperson. Fetterman, the lieutenant governor and a leading Senate candidate, originally had no plans to attend because of a scheduling conflict, but did appear with Biden at the bridge and later at his speech.

Fetterman said in an interview that he was on his way to the gym when he heard about the collapse, and went to the bridge — still in his gym shorts — meeting the president, whom he applauded for visiting the site. The White House asked if he’d like to be with Biden there, and he said, “Absolutely. I’m coming.”

Still, the high-profile absence comes as Democrats in other states have begun taking modest steps to distance themselves from the first-term president, whose approval ratings have fallen sharply in recent months. And while Shapiro's team indicated that politics had no bearing on his schedule, their decisions to avoid Biden, particularly in his home state, could fuel further questions among anxious Democratic candidates elsewhere as they decide whether to embrace the struggling president.

Earlier in the month, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, a leading candidate for governor in another swing state, skipped a chance to appear with the president in the state, citing an unspecified scheduling conflict. Last week, Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke said he didn't need the Democratic president's assistance in his campaign for governor.

The White House announced Biden’s trip on Monday after the president said last week he would look to get out of Washington more in the second year of his presidency.

Biden, who has seen his poll numbers sink in the midst of an unrelenting pandemic and high inflation, said it was important that he “go out and talk to the public” about what he’s accomplished and about why Congress needs to get behind the rest of his domestic agenda.

While in Pittsburgh, Biden will focus on the economy, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

“He'll be talking about how far we’ve come in getting our economy moving again, making more right here in America, and ensuring all workers benefit,” Psaki told reporters at the White House on Thursday.

Pentagon Urges Putin to Stand Down Over Ukraine

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Pentagon Urges Putin to Stand Down Over Ukraine The Pentagon The Pentagon. (Staff/AFP via Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 28 January 2022 03:33 PM

U.S. military leaders on Friday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to choose diplomacy over war as tensions continue to rise concerning Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Western defense officials reported Moscow was sending medical units to the Ukrainian front, where roughly 100,000 Russian troops were positioned and ready to invade if called upon.

"We strongly encourage Russia to stand down and to pursue a resolution through diplomacy," Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley said during a press briefing at the Pentagon.

"Armed force should always be the last resort. Success here is through dialogue."

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also attended the briefing, and put the onus on Putin to choose a peaceful solution.

"There's no reason that this situation has to devolve into conflict," Austin said. "[Putin] can choose to deescalate. He can order his troops away. He can choose dialogue and diplomacy.

"Whatever he decides, the United States will stand with our allies and partners."

Austin said Russia had, for months, been deploying forces along Ukraine’s border at a "consistent and steady pace," with support provided by Russian naval activity in the northern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.

"We don't believe that President Putin has made a final decision to use these forces against Ukraine," Austin said. "He clearly now has that capability."

Milley warned of the human carnage that could result from war.

"There are many people, and highly dense population centers throughout Ukraine," Milley said. "If war were to break out on a scale and scope that is possible, the civilian population will suffer immensely.

"If Russia chooses to invade Ukraine, it will not be cost free, in terms of casualties or other significant effects."

Milley added that the U.S. currently has "zero offensive combat weapon systems, nor any permanent forces, not bases in Ukraine."

Austin said U.S. troops have not been moved in Europe, though troops were put on "higher alert."

"Conflict is not inevitable," Austin said. "There's still time and space for diplomacy."

Sen. Rick Scott Blasts Biden on Secret Flights for Migrants

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Sen. Rick Scott Blasts Biden on Secret Flights for Migrants Sen. Rick Scott Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Friday, 28 January 2022 03:08 PM

Sen, Rick Scott, R-Fla., saying Joe Biden is unfit to lead, blasted the president for secretly flying migrants to American cities.

Scott made his remarks in a Thursday tweet. He wrote: "Joe Biden doesn’t give a flip about our laws or the border & he's willing to waste millions of YOUR taxpayer dollars to fly illegal aliens on private planes to YOUR neighborhood. It is disgraceful & Biden is completely unfit to lead."

His remarks came after a newly obtained video was released showing migrants landing in Westchester, New York, on a secret charter flight.

Rob Astorino, a former Westchester County executive, obtained the footage via a Freedom of Information Act request. The video, recorded on a police officer's body camera, is taken on the tarmac of a Westchester airport on the night of Aug. 13, 2021, according to Fox News.

The video runs for 51 minutes. In part of it, Westchester police Sgt. Michael Hamborsky is heard asking questions to a federal contractor who worked to transport the migrants from the southern border to the airport.

The conversation came as the two men were standing next to a Boeing 737, which had flown in from Fort Bliss, Texas, by iAero Airways under charter by the Biden administration.

Hamborsky learned there were 12 "chaperones" on the flight — apparently all were working for a private security firm contracted by the government. The plane carried 142 migrants.

Rasmussen Poll: Majority Say Dems in Congress ‘Too Liberal’

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Rasmussen Poll: Majority Say Dems in Congress 'Too Liberal' Rasmussen Poll: Majority Say Dems in Congress 'Too Liberal' U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, Jan. 6, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty)

By Eric Mack | Friday, 28 January 2022 02:53 PM

A solid majority of voters say Democrats in Congress are too liberal in their ideology and agree with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and do not want to "fundamentally transform America," the latest Rasmussen Reports poll found.

Not only do 55% of likely voters see Democrats as too liberal on issues, but an even stronger 64% agree with McConnell's quote made after Democrats failed to pass partisan election reforms.

The poll asked voters if they agreed with McConnell's statement: "The American people are closely divided … There's not a mandate to fundamentally transform America into something it's never been. That's not what the voters voted for."

Even a majority of Democrats (53%) agreed, and there were 42% of all voters who strongly agreed and just 20% who disagreed, according to the poll.

On Republican ideology, 36% of voters say the GOP is too conservative, 33% say the party is about right and 21% say it is too moderate.

Among independent or third-party voters, 60% think Democrats are too liberal compared to 26% who say Republicans are too conservative, according to the poll.

The Daily Presidential Tracking Poll by Rasmussen Reports on Friday had President Joe Biden's approval at just 41% and 57% disapproval. That includes 47% who strongly disapprove, and just 20% who strongly approve for a Presidential Approval Index rating of -27.

Rasmussen Reports polled 1,000 U.S. likely voters Jan. 20-23, and the results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The daily tracking poll surveys 500 likely voters a night and renders a three-day rolling average among the 1,500 polled.

Original Article