Minimum Wage Increase Disallowed from Biden Rescue Plan, Senate Rules Official Says

Democrats aren’t allowed to attach a provision increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour to their coronavirus relief package, a top Senate official ruled, according to reports.

Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, who oversees the interpretation of the chamber’s rules and precedents, decided Thursday evening that the proposed minimum wage hike couldn’t be included in President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan under budget reconciliation, CNBC reported. MacDonough had held private meetings over the last week with Democrats and Republicans, hearing their arguments for or against keeping the measure.

Read More

Opposition Grows Against Neera Tanden, Jeopardizing Her Path to Confirmation

Senate confirmation for Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, is becoming increasingly unlikely after one Democrat and key Republicans announced that they would vote against her.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Rob Portman and Pat Toomey all said that they would vote against Tanden’s confirmation, joining West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin who announced his opposition Sunday. Without Manchin, Tanden would fall one vote short of confirmation, assuming that every Republican votes against her.

Read More

Biden Pick for Interior Secretary Likely to Face Rocky Confirmation Hearing

U.S. Senate Republicans may use next week’s Interior confirmation hearing for Rep. Debra Haaland to air their grievances about the Biden administration’s energy policies, running the risk of alienating Native Americans in Western states.

GOP Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Steve Daines of Montana sit on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which will hold the Tuesday hearing, and both have already raised objections that Haaland holds “radical” views. Daines vowed to block her progress in the Senate unless she addresses several issues that concern him.

Read More

New York Legislature ‘Inching Toward’ Impeachment Probe of Cuomo, Democratic Assemblyman Says

A Democratic state assemblyman in New York says that lawmakers are “inching toward” opening an impeachment probe of Gov. Andrew Cuomo over his handling of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes.

In an interview on the “Skullduggery” podcast, Ronald Kim, a Queens assemblyman, also said he is willing to cooperate with federal investigators in an ongoing probe of the Cuomo administration.

Read More

Bill to Ban Guns Near Polling Places Heads to Virginia Gov. Northam’s Desk

Legislation that would prohibit most people from possessing guns near a polling place passed the Virginia Senate on Thursday and is heading to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk for his signature.

If signed into law, House Bill 2081, sponsored by Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, would prohibit knowingly possessing firearms within 40 feet of the locations beginning one hour before polls are open and an hour after they close. Violation would be a Class 1 misdemeanor if convicted, which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $2,500 or both.

Read More

New House Rules Carve-Out for ‘Climate Change’ Bills Exempted from Requiring Projected Price Tag

House Democrats blocked a Republican attempt on Monday to require any proposed climate change legislation to also include its projected cost.

Under the Pay As You Go (PAYGO) rule, any additional government spending proposed must be accompanied by tax increases or separate cuts. After a push from several lawmakers in the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, however, the rules package for the 117th Congress states PAYGO will not apply to legislation relating to the necessary economic recovery or U.S. efforts to combat climate change.

Read More

US Legislatures Slow to Pass Laws Limiting Use of Force

A wave of police killings of young black men in 2014 prompted 24 states to quickly pass some type of law enforcement reform, but many declined to address the most glaring issue: police use of force. Six years later, only about a third of states have passed laws on the question.

The issue is at the heart of nationwide protests set off by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed a knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes while he pleaded for air.

Read More

Gov. Haslam Signs Legislation to Restrict Opioid Access, Punish Trafficking, Provide Treatment Help

Bill Haslam

The state of Tennessee is adding restrictions to opioid prescriptions and measures to track and punish unlawful distribution of the powerful pain medications. Gov. Bill Haslam signed two bills and issued an executive order last Friday to support TN Together, the latest effort to fight the opioid crisis, WBIR reported,…

Read More