Michelle Steel and Daniel Garza: Pass the SPEAK Act to improve access to health care

Imagine yourself at the doctor’s office, seated next to your mother who only speaks Korean. You listen intently, focused on each and every word the doctor said while furiously taking notes. It’s easy to feel frustrated. How can someone share in the right language, in the right way, how your mother feels and most importantly how do you translate the information you were receiving in English to Korean. 

Things often get lost in translation and this challenge affects millions of Americans. Telehealth for example, is a phenomenal resource that continues improving health care access not just by lowering costs but by removing the temporal and geographical barriers to care. Unfortunately, not all Americans have been able to benefit.

Patients with limited English proficiency are significantly less likely than other Americans to make use of telehealth. The demand for these services is present in communities with limited English proficiency, but to solve this problem it will require a bipartisan effort. That is why it is so important to find common ground in Congress to help break down language barriers in this country to improve access to our health care system. The introduction of the Supporting Patient Education and Knowledge (SPEAK) Act marks an important step toward assuring that all Americans have access to the care they need. 

The SPEAK Act would create a taskforce to identify how best to support the over 25 million people in the U.S. with limited English proficiency and ensure that they can also benefit from new health care services. Health care affects all of us and a language barrier is not just a treatment barrier, but it is also expensive. Not only does limited language access keep individuals from receiving proper care or even pursuing it, but unclear communication can result in real harm to patients and providers.  

The numbers themselves speak volumes—patients with limited English proficiency face an elevated risk of medical errors, and a staggering $1.7 billion in medical malpractice costs over five years could have been averted with improved patient communication. It’s more than just policy; it’s about drastically improving and even saving lives. The SPEAK act is more than a message, it’s a commitment to making healthcare services accessible to all Americans.

The Asian and Hispanic communities to which we belong would benefit greatly from increased language access. Together these two communities represent 60 percent of California’s 45th district and 54 percent of the whole state. Many of us enjoy the rich diversity of our community: from the Vietnamese Night Market in Little Saigon to the culture celebrations in Buena Park, our district represents the best of America, and we should want all Americans, regardless of origin, to be able to receive services just like everyone else.

Being the children of immigrants, we both personally understand the challenges that can come from limited language access, especially in the realm of health care. We know well the look of relief from our own parents when they find a health care professional who speaks their language. We, like countless others, find ourselves in the doctor’s office translating for family members. Increasing language access doesn’t just benefit the single individual with limited English proficiency but also has positive effects on their caregivers and family unit. The SPEAK Act is a step toward a world where our families and neighbors could not only access the care and treatment they need, but also be able to fully understand their options. This act is a step towards ensuring dignity in health care access. 

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Little Difference Between Democratic Senate Candidates Lee, Porter, Schiff

California voters will soon choose a replacement for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein

In a little over a year California voters will choose a replacement for the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

An Oct. 8 debate revealed some differences among the three candidates involved: Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff of Burbank, Katie Porter of Orange County and Barbara Lee of Oakland.

On the hottest issue of the day, the candidates differed on how the United States ought to respond to the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

Schiff first was asked if he was out of step with “other progressives,” such as Porter and Lee, with his typically hawkish stance. He touted his support by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and J Street. He said, “The only sentiment I want to express right now, when Israel is going through its own 9/11, is unequivocal support for the security and the right of Israel to defend itself.”

Porter, by contrast, said, “I stand with Israel in this time and I condemn the loss of lives, both of Palestinians and of Israelis who are being victims of this terror.” She backed a two-state solution, giving Palestinians their own country, and she cautioned with respect to Israel’s response to the Hamas terrorist attacks, “There is no exception for human rights.”

Said Lee, who has sponsored legislation putting restrictions on U.S. aid to Israel, “I have always stood for Israel.” She added she has condemned terrorist attacks on it. She called for prayers for both sides, and said America “has a responsibility to call for a ceasefire.”

On the domestic front, all three supported a bill by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia, to more than double the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $17 by 2028; in California it already will be $16 in 2024.

Schiff thought there ought to be flexibility among states because some are cheaper. But for health care workers, he backed $25 and $20 for everyone else. Lee, who has evidently never once considered getting even vaguely acquainted with economics, backed a $50 minimum wage. Porter complained about corporate profits and backed a $25 minimum wage with a cost-of-living increase.

The candidates held similar views on most other issues, such as opposing the potential shutdown of the government over budget squabbles and backing the PRO Act, which would greatly increase union power.

In other words, the three top Democrats are as economically illiterate as each other, and prefer suffocating top-down federal mandates over allowing markets to work. Their only major distinction is their approach to foreign policy. On the one end, you have Schiff, who voted for the disastrous Iraq war and on the other, you have Lee, who voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

In future debates, we hope participants include Sen. Laphonza Butler, who was invited but chose not to participate. She was appointed Oct. 1 by Gov Gavin Newsom to replace Feinstein. But so far Butler hasn’t publicly stated her intentions for seeking election to the office.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

In Rowdy Scene, House Censures Rep. Adam Schiff Over Trump-Russia Investigations

The House voted Wednesday to censure California Rep. Adam Schiff for comments he made several years ago about investigations into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, rebuking the Democrat and frequent critic of the former president along party lines.

Schiff becomes the 25th House lawmaker to be censured. He was defiant ahead of the vote, saying he will wear the formal disapproval as a “badge of honor” and charging his GOP colleagues of doing the former president’s bidding.

“I will not yield,” Schiff, who is running for the Senate in his home state, said during debate over the measure. “Not one inch.”

When it was time for Schiff to come to the front of the chamber to be formally censured, immediately after the vote, the normally solemn ceremony turned into more of a celebratory atmosphere. Dozens of Democrats crowded to the front, clapping and cheering for Schiff and patting him on the back. They chanted “No!,” “Shame!” and “Adam! Adam!”

When House Speaker Kevin McCarthy started to read the resolution out loud, as is tradition after a censure, Democrats heckled him to the point that he stopped and gave up, leaving the chamber.

“Censure all of us,” one Democrat yelled.

Schiff, the former Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the lead prosecutor in Trump’s first impeachment trial, has long been a top Republican political target. Soon after taking back the majority this year, Republicans blocked him from sitting on the intelligence panel.

More than 20 Republicans voted with Democrats last week to block the censure resolution, but they changed their votes this week after the measure’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, removed a provision that could have fined Schiff $16 million if the House Ethics Committee determined he lied. Several of the Republicans who voted against the resolution last week said they opposed fining a member of Congress in that manner.

The final vote on Wednesday was 213-209 along party lines, with a handful of members voting present.

The revised resolution says Schiff held positions of power during Trump’s presidency and “abused this trust by saying there was evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.” Schiff was one of the most outspoken critics of the former president as both the Justice Department and the Republican-led House launched investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia in 2017. Both investigations concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election but neither found evidence of a criminal conspiracy.

“Representative Schiff purposely deceived his Committee, Congress, and the American people,” the resolution said.

The House has only censured two other lawmakers in the last 20 years. Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona was censured in 2021 for tweeting an animated video that depicted him striking Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., with a sword. Former Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York was censured in 2010 for serious financial and campaign misconduct.

The censure itself carries no practical effect, except to provide a historic footnote that marks a lawmaker’s career. But the GOP resolution would also launch an ethics investigation into Schiff’s conduct.

While Schiff did not initiate the 2017 congressional investigation into Trump’s Russia ties — then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican who later became one of Trump’s most ardent defenders, started it — Republicans arguing in favor of his censure Wednesday blamed him for what they said was the fallout of that probe, and of the separate investigation started that same year by Trump’s own Justice Department.

Luna said that Schiff’s comments that there was evidence against Trump “ripped apart American families across the country” and that he was “permanently destroying family relationships.” Several blamed him for the more than $30 million spent by then-special counsel Robert Mueller, who led the Justice Department probe.

Schiff said the censure resolution “would accuse me of omnipotence, the leader of some a vast Deep State conspiracy, and of course, it is nonsense.”

Democrats aggressively defended their colleague. Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, who led Trump’s second impeachment, called the effort an “embarrassing revenge tour on behalf of Donald Trump.”

Mueller, who led the two-year Justice Department investigation, determined that Russia intervened on the campaign’s behalf and that Trump’s campaign welcomed the help. But Mueller’s team did not find that the campaign conspired to sway the election, and the Justice Department did not recommend any criminal charges.

The House intelligence committee probe launched by Nunes similarly found that Russia intervened in the election but that there was no evidence of a criminal conspiracy. Schiff was the top Democrat on the panel at the time.

Schiff said last week that the censure resolution was “red meat” that McCarthy was throwing to his conference amid squabbles over government spending. Republicans are trying to show their fealty to Trump, Schiff said.

He said he warned the country during impeachment proceedings three years ago that Trump “would go on to do worse. And of course he did worse in the form of a violent attack on the Capitol.”

After Democrats won the House majority in 2018, the House impeached Trump for abuse of power after he threatened to withhold military aid to Ukraine and urged the country’s president to investigate then-candidate Joe Biden. Schiff was the lead House prosecutor making the case for conviction to the Senate, arguing repeatedly that “right matters.” The Republican-led chamber ultimately acquitted him.

Trump was impeached a second time a year later, after he had left office, for his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol. The Senate again acquitted Trump.

In the censure resolution against Schiff, Luna also cited a report released in May from special counsel John Durham that found that the FBI rushed into its investigation of Trump’s campaign and relied too much on raw and unconfirmed intelligence.

Durham said investigators repeatedly relied on “confirmation bias,” ignoring or rationalizing away evidence that undercut their premise of a Trump-Russia conspiracy as they pushed the probe forward. But he did not allege that political bias or partisanship were guiding factors for the FBI’s actions.

Trump had claimed that Durham’s report would reveal the “crime of the century” and expose a “deep state conspiracy” by high-ranking government officials to derail his candidacy and later his presidency. But the investigation yielded only one conviction — a guilty plea from a little-known FBI employee — and the only two other cases that were brought both ended in acquittals at trial.

On Wednesday, just before the vote, Schiff’s campaign sent out a fundraising email that said Luna had introduced “yet ANOTHER resolution to censure me.”

“The vote and debate will happen imminently,” the email read, asking recipients to donate to help him fight back. “Once more, I have to be on the House floor to listen as MAGA Republicans push false and defamatory lies about me.”

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

Democrats’ Plan to Take Control of Congress Could Depend on Southern California

Democratic hopes to seize control of the U.S. House of Representatives next year at a pivotal moment for policy decisions about reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights, education and the economy may hinge on Southern California.

Despite the state’s liberal bent, California has the most competitive congressional races in the nation — an anomaly created by the state’s independent map-drawing process and sheer size.

“We could be outcome determinative. We could be absolutely critical,” said Darry Sragow, a veteran Democratic strategist who is the publisher of the nonpartisan California Target Book, which tracks the state’s congressional and legislative races. ”There are a number of districts that are capable of going one way or the other and they’re going to be hard fought and they’re going to be expensive and they’re going to matter.”

Of the 435 seats in the House, Democrats need to capture five held by Republicans next year to take back control of Congress. And they view many of their best opportunities in California.

“The three or four seats in Southern California that are in play could be the deciding factor in who controls Congress in 2024, 100%,” said Paul Mitchell, a Democratic redistricting expert. “That could end up being more than enough to get Democrats the majority in Congress.”

“In the rest of the country, so many districts are so polarized, so partisan,” drawn to ensure a Republican or a Democrat will win, he noted. “Our districts are less polarized, there’s more swinginess to them, which makes them more valuable in the congressional control question.”

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which has tracked House and Senate races for decades, rates nine of the state’s 52 congressional districts as competitive, the most of any state in the nation.

Most are in swaths of California that voted for President Biden yet elected a GOP congressional representative — districts that both parties consider prime battlegrounds in 2024. While a few are in the Central Valley, the bulk are in Southern California.

“These are bright blue districts that we need to play in. We need to have the candidates who can message, knock on doors and can generate voter enthusiasm and who can deliver these votes,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

Sragow attributes the number of competitive congressional seats in California to the state’s independent map-drawing process for political boundaries, including congressional districts, approved by voters in 2010 to replace the traditional partisan maps previously created by lawmakers. Most congressional districts across the country are still determined by state lawmakers who often try to tailor the maps to their political advantage if they hold power in their legislatures.

“There aren’t that many competitive seats anymore. There has been this incredible shift in much of the country toward gerrymandered congressional districts where the outcome is predetermined,” Sragow said. “There’s just not a lot of swing. So if you’re looking to pick up seats, California is a place you can do that.”

“This is one of the genuinely few competitive playing fields for House seats,” he said.

But Democrats face conundrums in many of the contests.

One of the most competitive races in the nation is an Orange County district being vacated by Rep. Katie Porter, who is running to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Porter, a prodigious fundraiser, spent nearly $29 million to narrowly hang onto her seat last year against former GOP Assemblyman Scott Baugh.

This election, the Republican is expected to receive stronger financial support and his Democratic rivals lack Porter’s fundraising prowess. The race was further scrambled when the candidate Porter endorsed, state Sen. Dave Min, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Sacramento. Joanna Weiss, an attorney like Porter, is also running for the seat and has the backing of former Rep. Harley Rouda, who planned to run for the seat until he suffered a brain injury.

North of Porter’s district, Democrats have long salivated — unsuccessfully — over the region represented by GOP Rep. Mike Garcia, which includes Santa Clarita, the Antelope Valley and part of the San Fernando Valley. The once-solidly Republican stronghold has grown more Democratic as Los Angeles residents moved there seeking affordable housing.

The district should be a solid pick-up opportunity for Democrats, but they have failed miserably three elections in a row. Strategists say a lack of investment by national Democrats was driven by both the expense of political advertising in Los Angeles, one of the most expensive media markets in the nation, and a lack of confidence in Garcia’s Democratic rival in the contests, Christy Smith. The former assemblywoman blasted her party for failing to back her in last year’s election.

Former Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides and Francisco Carrillo, who was wrongly convicted of murder and served two decades in prison before being released, are the Democrats now challenging Garcia.

GOP Rep. Michelle Steel, who represents a district that straddles Los Angeles and Orange counties with many Asian American voters, could also face a challenging reelection bid. Garden Grove City Councilwoman Kim Nguyen, a Democrat, announced her candidacy to represent the district that is home to many Vietnamese American voters.

In Riverside County, veteran Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) will probably face former federal prosecutor Will Rollins in a competitive race. The redrawing of district lines resulted in the inclusion of a large number of liberal and gay voters in the Palm Springs area. Rollins is gay and regularly campaigns with his husband; Calvert has a history of voting against LGBTQ+ interests and his allies outed a Democratic rival in a 1994 campaign. Calvert, who said his view on gay rights has evolved and he now supports same-sex marriage, beat Rollins by fewer than 5 points last year, a result that may prompt national Democrats to invest in the race.

Other potentially competitive seats include those held by Reps. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano), and John Duarte (R-Modesto), David Valadao (R-Hanford) and Josh Harder (D-Turlock) in the Central Valley.

Democrats are optimistic about their chances protecting Levin and Harder and ousting Garcia, Steel, Valadao, Duarte and Calvert because 2024 is a presidential election year, a time when voter turnout is higher and young and minority voters who favor their party are traditionally more likely to cast ballots.

But GOP leaders countered that they have bucked this trend in congressional contests in recent years.

“In 2016, we didn’t lose a single race. In 2020, we picked up four seats,” said Jessica Millan Patterson, chair of the state Republican Party. “We’re winning in seats Biden won by 10 points.”

Click here to read the full article in LA Times

An Official Named Su

President Biden’s nominee to be secretary of labor is in real danger of not being confirmed.

Julie Su, a lifetime labor-union official, isn’t an ordinary nominee. Until 2021, she was California’s labor secretary and presided over perhaps the biggest single example of fraud in the state’s history. The state’s unemployment system paid out tens of billions in expanded Covid-19 unemployment benefits that were subsidized by the federal government.

The fraud came after a state auditor warned the state to stop printing Social Security numbers on mail. He was ignored. Others warned that rings of scammers were bilking the system. They, too, were ignored. The Washington Examiner reports that “California reportedly sent $1 billion to fraud rings involving prisoners who were filing fraudulent claims while actively behind bars.”

Even Senator Mitt Romney, one of the Republicans most supportive of confirming Biden’s previous cabinet choices, says he has reached his limit in being asked to confirm Julie Su. At her confirmation hearing last Thursday, he said:

The fact that under your lead, unemployment insurance payments in California of some $31 billion went to people who were basically receiving money on a criminal basis  . . . $31 billion, that’s about as much as we provided in military aid to Ukraine. That’s almost twice the total budget of the Department of Labor. . . . In this case, your record there is so severely lacking, I don’t know how in the world it makes sense for the president to nominate you to take over this department.

Despite this record, Su was confirmed by 50 to 47 as Biden’s deputy secretary of labor in 2021. But several Republicans were absent from that vote, and three of the senators who voted for her have yet to back her promotion: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Jon Tester of Montana. All are up for reelection in 2024 and nervous about being linked to Su’s radicalism and incompetence.

All the country’s major business groups lined up against Su before her confirmation hearing. They pointed out that Su was also a major force behind California’s Assembly Bill 5, a law that essentially abolished independent contractors in the state. AB 5 was eventually repealed in a referendum by a 58 percent majority of the state’s voters, but not before it temporarily wrecked the state’s trucking industry and exacerbated its supply-chain problems at major ports.

Click here to read the full article in the National Review

US House Has No Members, No Rules As Speaker Race Drags On

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Republicans continue to squabble over who will be the next speaker, there are essentially no members in the U.S. House of Representatives — only members-elect.

Without a speaker, none of the them can be sworn in, and the 118th Congress can’t convene or vote on any rules. Parliamentary procedure has been jettisoned in favor of controlled chaos. Members of both parties are unsure whether they can call votes or make motions on the floor because there is no speaker to rule on their requests. Committees can’t be formed and legislation can’t be passed.

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“I don’t know what my status is,” said Democrat Ted Lieu of California. “I don’t know if I have health care, I don’t know if my staff get paid. We’re looking at all of that now because this hasn’t happened for 100 years.”

Former Rep. Billy Long of Missouri, who just retired, has been tweeting about what he calls “Bizaroland.” At one point he openly wondered in his Twitter bio whether he was still a congressman (he isn’t).

The rule-less, member-less House may only be a blip in history if Republicans are able to find a way forward this week and elect a new speaker. While that remains a strong possibility, a resolution to the standoff seemed distant on Wednesday, as Republican Kevin McCarthy of California lost a second day of roll call votes on the floor. Supporters and opponents all appeared dug in.

The uncertainty added to the surreal, looser-than usual atmosphere on the House floor Wednesday as members sat in their seats for vote after vote, hour after hour, negotiating, gossiping and wondering what comes next. Some relaxed with books or newspapers, or scrolled their phones. Some took photos and selfies, a practice that is usually forbidden by the rules.

Others still had children with them in the chamber, a holdover from Tuesday’s proceedings when family often accompany members to watch them be sworn in. Only they weren’t sworn in on the first day of the new Congress — the first time that had happened in a century.

In 1923, the process of selecting a speaker lasted for three days. In 1855, it dragged on for two months, with 133 ballots.

“It’s a very strange limbo,” said Democrat Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, who had hoped her visiting grandchildren would get to see her sworn in on Tuesday. “We are operating by precedent.”

On the House floor, clerk Cheryl Johnson is holding the gavel, not the Republican majority.

“Madam speaker,” Republican Chip Roy of Texas said at one point, addressing the rostrum as members usually do, before correcting himself. “Madam clerk,” he amended.

Off the floor, members are operating under the rules for the last Congress — they think. No one really seems to know, and there are concerns about what would happen if the stalemate were to last until mid-January, when paychecks are expected. Some staff are in limbo — only provisionally employed if they are new hires or switching jobs.

Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the incoming chairman of the House Rules Committee, said that members-elect were operating under the rules of the previous Congress, when Democrats were in control. But he added: “I don’t know if that’s written down.”

Without a speaker, “there’s a lot we can’t do,” Cole said. Staff and members will be paid, he said, “but at some point it shuts off.”

As the hours ticked by, members started to ponder what-if scenarios. Lieu said he worried that lawmakers aren’t able to look at classified documents important to national security, and wouldn’t be able to respond to a world crisis. Could websites be updated? Would emails continue to work?

“Who can legally help any and all of our citizens with issues we normally handle everyday?” tweeted Long, the former Missouri congressman. “Passports, IRS, #Veteran’s issues, SBA, Post Office, Immigration issues, Corps of Engineers, etc. who’s getting paid?”

Click here to read the full article in AP News

House Approves Bill Allowing Puerto Ricans to Choose Statehood Status

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to let Puerto Ricans decide the island territory’s governing status — over the objections of most Republicans who said Congress should be focused on other priorities in the final days of the legislative session.

The legislation, which passed 233-191 with 16 Republicans voting in favor, frames the terms of a plebiscite on one of three options that would alter Puerto Rico’s status — full statehood, independence, or sovereignty in free association with the US.

The latter designation would put Puerto Rico on the same footing as the Marshall Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia. 

Bronx and Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has Puerto Rican ancestry, presided over the vote and announced the final tally.

The bill is likely to fall short of approval in the 50-50 Senate, which left many Republicans questioning why Democrats rushed to hold an apparently quixotic vote when Congress is scrambling to avert a partial government shutdown by midnight Friday.

“I do have to say, with only a few legislative days left in this Congress, no path forward in the Senate, I’m not sure why this matter warrants an emergency meeting of the Rules Committee when so many outstanding issues remain,” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) told Fox News Wednesday. 

House lawmakers approved a short-term spending bill late Wednesday that would give Congress another week to negotiate a federal spending plan for the rest of the fiscal year. 

The Senate was expected to take up that measure later Thursday.

“It is crucial to me that any proposal in Congress to decolonize Puerto Rico be informed and led by Puerto Ricans,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees affairs of US territories.

“For far too long, the people of Puerto Rico have been excluded from the full promise of American democracy and self-determination that our nation has always championed,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who has worked on the issue throughout his career.

Puerto Rico, with a population of more than 3.2 million, has been a US territory since 1898.

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, traveled to Washington for the vote. “It’s going to be a historic day because it’s going to create a precedent that we hadn’t had until now,” he said.

 Puerto Rico has held seven non-binding referendums on its political status, with no overwhelming majority emerging. The last referendum was held in November 2020, with 53% of votes for statehood and 47% against, with only a little more than half of registered voters participating.

Pablo José Hernández Rivera, an attorney in Puerto Rico, said approval of the bill by the House would be “inconsequential” like the approval of previous bills in 1998 and 2010.

“We Puerto Ricans are tired of the fact that the New Progressive Party has spent 28 years in Washington spending resources on sterile and undemocratic status projects,” he said.

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González, the island’s non-voting member in the House, praised the bill and said it would provide the island with the self-determination it deserves.

Click here to read the full article in the NY Post

New House Democratic Leader Defends Calling Trump ‘Illegitimate’ President

Newly elected House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries defended past remarks calling Donald Trump’s 2016 election “illegitimate” against Republican criticism, noting that he voted to certify his presidency.

“I will never hesitate in criticizing the former president,” Jeffries said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “I think I’m in good company there across the world.”

Jeffries said Republicans “are going to have to work out their issues” with Trump after his comment Saturday on his Truth Social social-media site that his loss in 2020 should be overturned and that “rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” should be terminated. Jeffries called it “a strange statement.”

“Suspending the Constitution is an extraordinary step, but we’re used to extraordinary statements being made by the former president,” Jeffries said of Trump, who is running for the 2024 Republican nomination for president.

For their part, Republicans have criticized Jeffries after Democrats selected him to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi, citing tweets in which he said that Russian interference made the 2016 presidential election “illegitimate” and questioned whether Trump was a “fake president.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Jeffries an “election denier,” a term typically used to describe Trump and allies who refuse to accept his loss in 2020.

Jeffries said that he voted to certify Trump’s 2016 win, attended his inauguration and worked with his administration on issues like a treaty with Mexico and criminal justice reform.

“That track record speaks for itself,” he said.

The White House harshly criticized Trump’s latest claim of election fraud, calling the US constitution a “sacrosanct document.”

“Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation, and should be universally condemned,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement. “You cannot only love America when you win.”

Former Trump adviser John Bolton, who has since become one of his harshest critics, said on Twitter that “all real conservatives” should oppose his 2024 campaign, citing that statement.

“No American conservative can agree with Donald Trump’s call to suspend the Constitution because of the results of the 2020 election,” he wrote.

Republican Representative David Joyce, who chairs the moderate Republican Governance Group, said on “This Week” that he wasn’t going to respond to Trump’s latest statement, even if it was a call for suspending the US constitution.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

GOP’s Duarte Takes California Central Valley US House seat

Republican John Duarte defeated Democrat Adam Gray on Friday in a new California U.S. House district in the Central Valley farm belt that produced the closest congressional contest in the state this year.

With virtually all of the ballots counted, Duarte has just over 50% of the vote. Gray conceded in a statement, saying, “I accept the results and have called to congratulate my opponent.”

“This was one of the closest races in the country. More than 130,000 ballots were cast, and the outcome will be decided by just a few hundred votes,” Gray said.

Duarte said in a statement, ”“I promised our Valley families that I would be their bipartisan champion in Washington, D.C. by fighting for food on our tables, gas in our tanks, and water on our farms. That is exactly what I am going to go there to do.”

Earlier, Republicans regained control of the House. With Duarte’s victory, Republicans will hold 221 seats next year, Democrats 213, with one Colorado race undecided and going to a recount.

The 13th District has a prominent Democratic tilt and a large Latino population, similar to other districts in the sprawling farm belt region. But the most likely voters tend to be white, older, more affluent homeowners, while working-class voters, including many Latinos, are less consistent in getting to the polls.

That provided an opening for the GOP, despite the 14-point Democratic registration advantage.

Duarte, a businessman and major grape and almond farmer, was the top finisher in the June primary. His priorities included obtaining adequate water supplies for farmers in the drought-wracked state — a perennial issue in the Central Valley — along with addressing inflation and crime.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

As Pelosi Backs Away, A New Generation of Democrats Steps Forward

One day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced she would step back from leading the House Democratic caucus, a changing of the guard began, led by a crop of Democrats tasked with charting a new path for the party as it reaches a generational inflection point.

Seasoned and newer Democratic lawmakers eagerly embraced the prospect of a fresh start that could usher in a new era for the Democratic Party, as new leaders Friday announced their intention to fill the vacancies left by Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (S.C.). The first major reshuffle of House Democratic leadership in decades will not only affect which policies Democrats pursue, but also bring with ita shifting view of how leadership should function.

Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), Katherine M. Clark (Mass.) and Pete Aguilar (Calif.) have emerged as the expected leaders of the next chapter, officially announcing their candidacies for the Democratic caucus’s top three positions on Friday. Besides the appeal of their relative youth — all are younger than 60, while the current top three are all older than 80 — the trio more robustly represents the diversity within the Democratic Party. Jeffries, 52, would break barriers as the first Black person to lead any party in either chamber of Congress. Clark, 58, could become the second woman to serve as minority whip, and Aguilar, 43, would be the second Hispanic lawmaker to chair the caucus if elected this month.

“In the 118th Congress, House Democrats will be led by a trio that reflects our beautiful diversity of our nation. Chair Jeffries, Assistant Speaker Clark and Vice Chair Aguilar know that, in our Caucus, diversity is our strength and unity is our power,” Pelosi said in a statement endorsing the candidates Friday.

Roughly two dozen Democratic lawmakers who spoke to The Washington Post this week were hopeful about the new generation of leaders expected to take charge, while many also noted that they hoped to elect colleagues to the rest of the large Democratic leadership slate who will expand age, cultural and regional diversity.

House Democrats overwhelmingly recognize, however, that no one leader in the new generation can be as powerful as Pelosi, who maintains the ability to achieve legislative results by coaxing members in the direction needed.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who has known Pelosi for almost four decades, acknowledged Pelosi’s style of “tough love” is what forged consensus to achieve historic feats like passing the landmark Affordable Care Act, several priorities of President Biden’s agenda and other bills that required sacrifices from members who may not have agreed with all provisions.

“She’s been a leader, a speaker, that has led through many, many difficult days,” Lee said. “But yes, she has always risen to the occasion and has shepherded through this Congress transformational legislation.”

A post-Speaker Pelosi House

Without that tight grip, members privately have mused over the past year, the new reality couldcreate a scenario where no one can control members’ demands.

“If no one’s living in fear of the speaker of the House, then maybe it’s a complete s—show,” one Democratic lawmaker said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to be candid.

But that is a risk many Democrats see as worth taking. They have grown tired of what several described as top-down governance, and they want to see new leaders engage more often with the ideological factions of the caucus before decisions are made, avoiding last-minute spats over legislation.

Reverence also was expressed toward Pelosi for shattering the marble ceiling, an acknowledgment that without her, Hoyer and Clyburn, members would not have such a structurally strong foundation on which to build and expand the caucus.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), a member of “The Squad,” made up largely of liberal women of color, wants to see the new leaders make more inroads with the most progressive members of the caucus, noting that their lived experiences aren’t routinely considered.

“Sometimes I feel treated as if my background — and it’s not just me, there are others, I can speak personally for myself — is like something that should be put in the corner,” she said, noting her background as an unhoused single parent working for low wages, as well as experience with domestic and sexual violence.

Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar spent much of the past term forging relationships throughout the caucus and acknowledging they would rely on one another’s strengths to bring all viewpoints to the decision-making table. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) credited the team, particularly Jeffries, for working in an inclusive manner and seeking input from colleagues.

“Having the first African American leader of either political party, I think, is really significant,” he said. “On top of that … [Jeffries is] extraordinarily talented, an amazing messenger of our values, a strong strategist, and someone who is inclusive and seeks input from his colleagues.”

Many older members in the caucus took the passing of the torch in stride, echoing Pelosi’s words read from Scripture during her Thursday speech, that there is “a time and a season” for everything. It’s a realization Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) had this year when he decided to retire after 15 years in the House. Before doing so, he called Morgan McGarvey, 42, to inquire if he would run for his seat in Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District because of his skill — and age.

“The world is moving at 100 miles an hour. Congress at its max, at its optimum efficiency, moves at 10 miles. So you need people who are more accustomed to the pace of change and adapting to the pace of change,” he said just hours after he was officially kicked out of his office in the Cannon Office Building. “Because if this body doesn’t figure out how to do that, it’s going to become irrelevant.”

Help from the ‘old guard’

While there is an overwhelming eagerness to start anew, several members were glad to hear that the “old guard” would still be around next term. It served as a relief for several, who had previously expressed worry that the new generation has not had enough time to harness their legislating and negotiating chops. The expected new top three in the caucus have served a collective 27 years in Congress, compared with the 58 years combined that Pelosi, Hoyer and Clyburn have served in leadership alone.

“I think for one thing, when you’re in the minority, it really is time to train people to be in the majority,” Hoyer said in an MSNBC interview Friday, echoing what many members have expressed about a transitional time being beneficial to new leaders.

Moreover, Hoyer retains a respectful relationship with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who earned the GOP conference’s nomination to be speaker next term. Both McCarthy and Jeffries have acknowledged not having a solid relationship, as both have often spent the past several years trading barbs.

Several Democratic lawmakers who spoke to The Post say Jeffries has proved himself to be a reliable antagonist against Republicans and their policies, a role he will have to play in the minority. But the ability to legislate and negotiate will be a test for the new trio as Republicans begin to acknowledge that they will have to rely on Democrats to approve must-pass legislation to overcome their razor-thin majority.

During a weekly news conference days before Pelosi stepped aside, Jeffries said House Democrats have always shown a willingness to work with the GOP, noting that the caucus previously worked with the Trump administration on policies “because we understood it was the right thing to do for America.” But where they engage depends on the proposals Republicans put forth.

“I think the metric of this caucus is: Does the policy help our communities, and does it help our country?” Aguilar said. “But if Republicans are going to engage in the continued extremism that we’ve seen over the past few years, then I don’t know if there’s an appetite.”

While the old guard will be around to give advice — particularly Clyburn, who is expected to remain in leadership — Pelosi said in an interview Thursday that she does not want to encroach on how Jeffries, Clark and Aguilar choose to lead the caucus.

“I have no intention of being the mother-in-law in the kitchen saying, ‘My son doesn’t like the stuffing that way. This is the way we make it in our family.’ They will have their vision. They will have their plan,” she said.

Instead, her closest confidants are hoping the new guard will allow Pelosi to step back and relax.

Click here to read the full article in the Washington Post