Connect with us

Latest

McConnell backs post-Jan. 6 revisions to elections law

Avatar photo

Published

on

McConnell backs post-Jan. 6 revisions to elections law

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday he will “proudly support” legislation to overhaul rules for certifying presidential elections, bolstering a bipartisan effort to revise a 19th century law and avoid another Jan. 6 insurrection.

The legislation would clarify and expand parts of the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which, along with the Constitution, governs how states and Congress certify electors and declare presidential winners. The changes in the certification process are in response to unsuccessful efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to exploit loopholes in the law to overturn his 2020 defeat to Joe Biden, and the violent attack on the Capitol by his supporters as Congress counted the votes.

“Congress’ process for counting the presidential electors’ votes was written 135 years ago,” McConnell said. “The chaos that came to a head on Jan. 6 of last year certainly underscored the need for an update.”

McConnell made the remarks just before the Senate Rules Committee voted 14-1 to approve the bill and send it to the Senate floor, where a vote is expected after the November election. The only senator to vote against the legislation was Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, one of two senators to stand and object to Biden’s certification last year.

The GOP leader’s endorsement gave the legislation a major boost as the bipartisan group pushes to pass the bill before the end of the year and ahead of the next election cycle. Trump is still pushing false claims of election fraud and saying he won the election as he considers another run in 2024. McConnell’s support for the law could put him even more at odds with Trump, who frequently berates the GOP leader and has encouraged Republicans to vote against it.

The House has already passed a more expansive bill overhauling the electoral rules, but it has far less Republican support. While the House bill received a handful of GOP votes, the Senate version already has the backing of at least 12 Republicans — more than enough to break a filibuster and pass the legislation in the 50-50 Senate.

As he announced his support, McConnell noted that Democrats also objected to legitimate election results the last three times that Republicans won the presidency. “The situation obviously called for careful, methodical and bipartisan work,” he said, noting that the bipartisan group that negotiated the bill worked on the language for months.

McConnell called the House bill a “non-starter” in the Senate because of the bipartisan compromise on the Senate language. “We have one shot to get this right,” he said.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Rules panel, expressed a similar sentiment. The Senate legislation is the bill that “will achieve a strong bipartisan consensus,” she said.

Cruz, who stood with Trump as he made false claims of fraud in 2020, called the legislation a “bad bill” and said it would make it harder for Congress to challenge fraudulent elections. He questioned why any Republican would support it.

The bill is all about “Democratic rage” at Trump, Cruz said.

Still, Cruz was the only dissenter. Among the Republicans on the Rules panel who voted for the bill shortly after McConnell’s statement were Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, one of only eight senators to vote against Biden’s certification, and Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty, a strong Trump ally.

Senators made minor tweaks to the legislation at Tuesday’s meeting but kept the bill largely intact. The bill, written by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, would make clear that the vice president only has a ceremonial role in the certification process, tighten the rules around states sending their votes to Congress and make it harder for lawmakers to object.

The changes are a direct response to Trump, who publicly pressured several states, members of Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence to aid him as he tried to undo Biden’s win. Even though Trump’s effort failed, lawmakers in both parties said his attacks on the election showed the need for stronger safeguards in the law.

If it becomes law, the bill would be Congress’ strongest legislative response yet to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, in which hundreds of Trump’s supporters beat police officers, broke into the Capitol and interrupted the joint session as lawmakers were counting the votes. Once the rioters were cleared, the House and Senate rejected GOP objections to the vote in two states. But more than 140 Republicans voted to sustain them.

Differences between the House and Senate bills will have to be resolved before final passage, including language around congressional objections.

While the Senate bill would require a fifth of both chambers to agree on an electoral objection to trigger a vote, the House bill would require agreement from at least a third of House members and a third of the Senate. Currently, only one member of each chamber is required for the House and Senate to vote on whether to reject a state’s electors.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The House bill also lays out new grounds for objections, while the Senate does not.

___

Associated Press writer Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

Read More

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Austin Local News

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

Avatar photo

Published

on

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

The patience of Memorial Day weekend travelers was tested Thursday by widespread delays across the country, but there were relatively few canceled flights, raising hopes that airlines can handle bigger crowds expected Friday.

By early evening on the East Coast, more than 6,000 flights had been delayed Thursday, with the biggest backups at the three major airports in the New York City area and Dallas-Fort Worth International.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback
Pasha Pidlubniak waits for a domestic flight at Miami International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Miami. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

 

The Transportation Security Administration predicted that Friday will be the busiest day for air travel over the holiday weekend, with nearly 3 million people expected to pass through airport checkpoints. It could rival the record of 2.9 million, set on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year.

“Airports are going to be more packed than we have seen in 20 years,” said Aixa Diaz, a spokesperson for AAA.

When they aren’t waiting out flight delays, travelers are reporting sticker shock at the prices.

At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Larisa Latimer of New Lenox, Illinois, said her airfare was reasonable but other expenses for a getaway to New Orleans were not.

 

 

 

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Motorists travel along Interstate 24 near the Interstate 40 interchange Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to hit the pavement over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

“I just have to make the accommodation,” she said. “The rental car is up … this year, the hotel accommodations were very unusually expensive.”

Kathy Larko of Fort Meyers, Florida, used frequent-flyer miles — and some flexible scheduling — to pay for her trip to Chicago.

“I’m really conscious of looking at the cost of the entire trip. We’re staying a little farther out than we normally would” to get a lower hotel rate, she said. “We’re also flying back a day later, because we could get cheaper miles.”

More travelers will be on the road. AAA estimates that 43.8 million people will venture at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home between Thursday and Monday, with 38 million of them taking vehicles.

 
Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

 

 

 

 

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Travelers wait at a TSA checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Los Angeles. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

 

Airport unions are using the holiday weekend to highlight their demands.

About 100 workers who clean airplane cabins and drive trash trucks at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, started a 24-hour strike Thursday, demanding better pay and healthcare, according to the Service Employees International Union. About 15% of flights were delayed, but it was unclear whether the strike played any role.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

A planned strike at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was averted, however. Teamsters Local 553, which represents about 300 workers who refuel passenger and cargo jets at JFK, said that it reached a settlement with Allied Aviation Services and called off a walkout planned for Friday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

George Ridley, 4, left, rides on a suitcase as he and his father Chris Ridley make their way through the Nashville international Airport, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. A record number of Americans are expected to travel over the 2024 Memorial Day holiday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

 

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

“We are happy an agreement has been reached, a need for a strike averted, and we are hopeful that the deal will be ratified by our members,” said Demos Demopoulos, the secretary-treasurer of the local.

___

Associated Press video journalist Melissa Perez Winder in Chicago and Associated Press radio reporter Shelley Adler in Washington contributed to this report.

Read More

Continue Reading

Austin Local News

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

Avatar photo

Published

on

Texas health department appoints anti-abortion OB-GYN to maternal mortality committee

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas’ health department has appointed an outspoken anti-abortion OB-GYN to a committee that reviews pregnancy-related deaths as doctors have been warning that the state’s restrictive abortion ban puts women’s lives at risk.

Dr. Ingrid Skop was among the new appointees to the Texas Maternal Morality and Morbidity Review Committee announced last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Her term starts June 1.

The committee, which compiles data on pregnancy-related deaths, makes recommendations to the Legislature on best practices and policy changes and is expected to assess the impact of abortion laws on maternal mortality.

Skop, who has worked as an OB-GYN for over three decades, is vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group. Skop will be the committee’s rural representative.

Skop, who has worked in San Antonio for most of her career, told the Houston Chronicle that she has “often cared for women traveling long distances from rural Texas maternity deserts, including women suffering complications from abortions.”

Texas has one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., and doctors have sought clarity on the state’s medical exemption, which allows an abortion to save a woman’s life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function. Doctors have said the exemption is too vague, making it difficult to offer life-saving care for fear of repercussions. A doctor convicted of providing an illegal abortion in Texas can face up to 99 years in prison and a $100,000 fine and lose their medical license.

Skop has said medical associations are not giving doctors the proper guidance on the matter. She has also shared more controversial views, saying during a congressional hearing in 2021 that rape or incest victims as young as 9 or 10 could carry pregnancies to term.

Texas’ abortion ban has no exemption for cases of rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says abortion is “inherently tied to maternal health,” said in a statement that members of the Texas committee should be “unbiased, free of conflicts of interest and focused on the appropriate standards of care.” The organization noted that bias against abortion has already led to “compromised” analyses, citing a research articles co-authored by Skop and others affiliated with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

Earlier this year a medical journal retracted studies supported by the Charlotte Lozier Institute claiming to show harms of the abortion pill mifepristone, citing conflicts of interests by the authors and flaws in their research. Two of the studies were cited in a pivotal Texas court ruling that has threatened access to the drug.

Read More

Continue Reading

Business

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

Avatar photo

Published

on

Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

Advertisement
Submit your 2022 Austin Neighborhood Feedback

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Read More

Continue Reading