Democrats pass $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package
- On Wednesday, the House passed the American Rescue Plan, delivering to President Biden his first major legislative victory.
- Republicans unanimously opposed the bill, but never really coalesced behind a cohesive line of attack against it. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) has already gotten caught touting a provision of the popular bill he voted to sink.
- Biden will now hit the road to sing the bill’s praises, and direct stimulus checks will start hitting qualifying people’s bank accounts as soon as this weekend.
- But but but… the joy may be short-lived. The filibuster lurks just around the corner and could stymie pretty much the entire rest of the Biden legislative agenda unless it’s reformed or abolished, or if Democrats (read: Joe Manchin) agree to pass the Biden-backed infrastructure package through reconciliation.
Cuomo’s problems stemming from parallel scandals continued to mount
- According to a report in the Albany Times Union, an aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said that she was called to the Executive Mansion and groped by Cuomo last year. That story appeared to be the last straw for many Democratic lawmakers.
- New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio said the allegations were “disqualifying” and Cuomo could “no longer serve as governor.”
- Separately, 59 New York state legislators signed a letter calling on Cuomo to resign that was followed on Friday by a deluge of condemnations from members of Congress, including House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and a group of Democrats from New York’s congressional delegation called on Cuomo to resign or step down citing the sexual harassment allegations and reports that the governor’s office had altered nursing home data on COVID-19 deaths.
- Cuomo continued to rebuff demands for his resignation later in the day, suggesting ulterior political motives play a role in allegations.
- The New York State Assembly gave its Judiciary Committee authority to investigate the allegations against the governor and New York Attorney General Letitia James has appointed two high-powered lawyers to probe the allegations.
Militia group takes center stage in Jan. 6 investigation
- This week showed the extent to which the far-right militia group known as “the Oath Keepers” has prosecutors’ attention in their criminal investigations into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
- First of all, not one but two of Trump associate Roger Stone’s bodyguards were charged this week for allegedly breaching the Capitol building with the violent mob of Trump supporters that day.
- Federal prosecutors alleged in the criminal cases against several Oath Keepers who have already been indicted for conspiracy that Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the group, was in direct communication with those Oath Keepers in the run-up to and during the attack. Court documents show Stewart’s alleged texts in which he tells the Oath Keepers where they ought to go on Capitol grounds and informs them that there are “quick reaction forces” that are ready to back them up.
- Now Rhodes is under investigation, according to the New York Times.
- And the FBI and DOJ are looking to build a broad conspiracy case against the Oath Keepers, the Washington Post reports.