WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate approved broadly bipartisan legislation Thursday that would provide billions for natural disaster relief, military and economic aid to Ukraine, and funding to help low-income families offset the rising costs of heating and cooling their homes.
The legislation includes $2.5 billion in assistance for the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire that burned large swaths of New Mexico this spring, $2 billion in Community Development Block Grant disaster relief funding for states impacted by natural disasters during 2021 and 2022, and $1 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
President Joe Biden said Thursday that given ongoing natural disasters, such as the hurricane in Florida now moving up the coast, more funding may be needed later this year to help communities recover from hurricanes and severe storms.
The package approved Thursday was formed around a short-term spending bill that must pass before Friday at midnight to keep the federal government open through Dec. 16 while congressional leaders and the Biden administration attempt to reach a full-year spending deal.
Using the stopgap spending bill to give themselves a couple more months to work through the annual appropriations process is a regular practice for Congress, which hasn’t completed its work on time since the last century.
The 72-25 Senate vote Thursday sends the measure to the U.S. House, where members are expected to clear the package for Biden on Friday.
Manchin plan yanked
The legislation cleared an important procedural vote earlier this week after West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to remove an energy permitting reform bill the two had agreed to tack on to the must-pass package.
Republicans had broadly rejected the energy permitting bill, while Democrats in both chambers of Congress criticized both the substance of the bill and the fact Manchin and Schumer struck a deal to advance the measure through Congress without input from other Democrats.
Schumer and Manchin both said they hope to find a path forward for the energy permitting legislation before this session of Congress ends later this year. But that bill will likely need a rewrite to garner members’ support.
The spending bill approved Thursday includes more than $12 billion in economic and military assistance for Ukraine as the country continues its war against Russia’s invasion into the winter months. The new round would bring U.S. investment in the conflict to $66 billion.
Schumer said in a floor speech Thursday that American weaponry has helped Ukraine’s military turn the tide against Russia.
“We cannot stop now,” he said.
The package doesn’t include any new funding for ongoing public health emergencies, rejecting the White House’s request for $22.4 billion in COVID-19 funding and $4.5 billion for the monkeypox outbreak.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said just before the vote that he will push to get COVID-19 funding in the full-year government funding package that could pass in December.
More time for negotiation
The short-term government funding part of the measure is intended to give Congress and the Biden administration more time to negotiate total discretionary spending levels for the fiscal year 2023, slated to begin Oct. 1.
Those negotiations never really got off the ground after Biden sent Congress his budget request in March, asking U.S. lawmakers to provide $795 billion for defense spending and $915 billion for nondefense programs, which includes funding for the Homeland Security, Justice, and Veterans Affairs departments.
Republicans scoffed at the defense request, saying it didn’t increase spending on those programs nearly enough compared to current funding of $782 billion.
Many GOP lawmakers also argued the proposed jump in nondefense funding, from $730 billion, was a bit too high.
Manchin seeks bipartisan ‘sweet spot’ for a new try at his energy permitting billStopgap spending bill advances in U.S. Senate without Manchin proposal requiring Mountain Valley Pipeline completion, billions for natural disasters, home energy included in a stopgap spending bill in Congress
Senate Appropriations ranking member Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican set to retire at the end of this Congress, said he thinks there’s a good chance the two parties will reach an agreement this year.
“A lot of that will come from what we can do with the defense number — if we can work that out, I bet we can work the other out,” Shelby said.
Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, chair of the subcommittee that funds the Agriculture Department, the Food and Drug Administration, and rural development programs, said she expects Leahy and Shelby’s retirements will provide momentum to complete full-year government spending bills during the lame-duck session.
“I think minds will focus, and agreement will be reached following the midterms,” Baldwin said. “I think that’s when there’ll be greater focus and a month to get it done, basically.”
“You have a retiring chairman and ranking member who very much want to make sure we have an omnibus rather than a continuing resolution,” she added. “And I think they’ll be committed to that.”
Waiting on November
Indiana GOP Sen. Mike Braun, the ranking member of the Legislative Branch funding panel that provides money for Congress and the Supreme Court, said he expects the dozen spending bills will come together faster than the last go around, which ended more than five months late this March.
“I do think it will probably get done more quickly than that, but nobody’s given any indication,” he said.
Braun doesn’t expect congressional leaders and the Biden administration will agree to total spending levels, the first step to writing full-year bills, until after November’s midterm elections.
Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy, the top Republican on the subcommittee that funds the Energy Department and Army Corps of Engineers, also said he expects the package to come together after the election.
“Look, what I see happening is once again the so-called leadership gets together and puts together an omnibus and gives it to us and says, ‘Take it or leave it,’” he said.
That process, Kennedy said, is “an insult to the American people and a horrible way to put together” the final versions of the annual government funding bills.
by Jennifer Shutt, Virginia Mercury
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: email@example.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
Late vote count topples five conservative school board candidates in Maryland
Five socially conservative school board candidates in Maryland who were leading just after Election Night ended up losing when the counting of mail-in and provisional ballots was concluded this week.
Those changes meant that 20 of the 41 socially conservative candidates identified by Capital News Service came out ahead in their races, down from 25 right after last month’s election, according to unofficial results posted on the Maryland Board of Elections website.
Still, nearly half of the conservative board candidates ended up ahead in a state where a Democrat, Wes Moore, won the gubernatorial election by 20 points to become Maryland’s first Black governor.
Conservatives won school board races throughout much of the state, with the largest number elected in Wicomico County, followed by Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, and Washington counties.
But the five social conservatives who fell behind after mail-in and provisional ballots were counted were:
• Dennis Barry, who lost in Harford County’s District B to Wade Sewell.
• Tanya Tyo, who lost in Harford County’s District E to Carol Pitt Bruce.
• James Miller, who lost in Carroll County to Patricia Ann Dorsey.
• Cindy Rose, who lost the last open board seat in Frederick County to Dean Rose.
• John Abbott, who lost in Worcester County’s District 1 to Bill Buchanan.
An earlier version of this story indicated that 25 socially conservative candidates appeared headed to victory. But that was before the final count of mail-in and provisional ballots, which had to be done after Election Day under Maryland state law.
Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed a measure that would have allowed the earlier counting of mail-in ballots. As a result, some Maryland counties didn’t report final results until this week.
The Local News Network at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism identified the conservative candidates by coding their responses to a Capital News Service survey on important issues in the campaign. The Local News Network also scoured the social media of the candidates who did not respond, as well as media coverage of the races and endorsements by conservative organizations, to identify other conservative candidates.
While school board elections are nonpartisan, the conservative candidates’ platforms focused on what they called a fight for parents’ rights in schooling. The conservative candidates often raise the sort of concerns that Maggie Litz Domanowski, a candidate who won her race in Baltimore County’s District 3, mentioned in an interview.
She wants schools to focus on basic subjects and avoid anything students ought to learn at home.
“We need to let our parents do the moral guiding,” she said. “My kids are my kids, and I don’t want someone teaching them a moral or anything about sexuality before I have a chance to teach it to them.”
Domanowski also said parents should have full access to school curricula.
“If it needs to be hidden, then why does it need to be taught?” she asked.
Not surprisingly, the right-leaning candidates saw the most success in conservative parts of Maryland.
Overall, they found seats on the school boards of 14 counties across the state, ranging from Garrett County in western Maryland to Worcester County on the Eastern Shore.
But social conservatives weren’t even on the ballot in three of the state’s largest population centers: Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County.
In Frederick County, a conservative “Education Not Indoctrination” slate campaigned on taking a close look at the district’s curriculum.
“School boards have been abdicating their responsibilities and duties to do what is best for a child’s education,” Cindy Rose, an Education Not Indoctrination slate member who lost her bid for a school board seat in Frederick County, said in response to a CNS survey. “There is too much focus on emotions, sexuality, racial division, and political activism. I want to remove all of that from the classroom. These are family topics of discussion, not government school discussions.”
Four board members were elected in Frederick County, with only one from the Education Not Indoctrination slate: Nancy Allen.
One of the other winning candidates, Rae Gallagher, said she didn’t share the concerns of the Education Not Indoctrination slate regarding the district’s curriculum as well as the books available in school libraries. Now, though, she said it is time for board members on opposite sides of those issues to get past their differences.
“I think any of us who are on the board or in elected positions have to be really aware of some of the polarizing discussions that happened throughout the election cycle,” Gallagher said in an interview. “And we have to work together and be able to listen to all of those views. … But ultimately, for the board, we must come together and make the best decisions for our schools and our kids.”
In Wicomico County, four candidates ran on an Education Not Indoctrination slate, and two of them won: Susan Beauchamp and Kristin Hazel. So did conservative candidate John Palmer, who wrote in the Capital News Service survey that he has “deep concerns about the way U.S. history is being changed and deleted by the woke movement.”
An incumbent, Palmer finished more than 18 percentage points ahead of Jake Blank, an Education Not Indoctrination candidate.
Leonard Arvi, a more progressive candidate, trailed Beauchamp by more than 32 percentage points in Wicomico’s District 3 race.
In an interview, Arvi said that moderate voices on the board will outnumber the three conservatives elected this week. Arvi also noted that most of the district’s funding comes from the state, as do the parameters of the schools’ curriculum, thereby limiting the board’s power.
“I think most of the candidates are moderate once they go on the board because the board itself does not have a lot of leeways,” Arvi said.
Michael Guessford, a conservative candidate who joined the Washington County school board in 2018 and won his reelection Tuesday, credited the COVID-19 pandemic with getting more parents to take a closer look at what was happening in local schools.
“Once [parents and grandparents] started seeing the curriculum that is being taught in our schools … they’re finally stepping up,” Guessford said in an interview. “They’re saying: ‘Whoa, whoa, let’s get back to teaching the basics. We don’t need all these other clubs. We don’t need all this other rhetoric in our schools right now.’”
In the Capital News Service survey, Guessford indicated that he wanted a committee of parents to review all books present in school libraries.
But other candidates are wary of allowing parents to have too much control over what’s happening in the schools. Among those candidates is Samay Singh Kindra, who fell three points short of his opponent, Brenda Hatcher-Savoy, in Baltimore County’s District 4.
“I think that it’s hard to address parental rights as a topic because that encompasses a lot,” he said in an interview. For some people, “that means more transparency with the board of education in terms of just being communicative. For others, that means parents getting a say directly over the curriculum of every subject, and that’s something that, obviously, I’m not in favor of. We have a board of education in the school system for a reason.”
By JENNA BLOOM and DANIELLE HODES
Capital News Service
Little appetite for Manchin permitting bill in congressional lame-duck session
Among the items on Congress’ lengthy to-do list by the end of the year is U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s proposal to speed up the federal government’s permitting process that certifies energy projects do not harm the environment.
But the bill, which was a condition of the centrist West Virginia Democrat’s support for his party’s larger climate, health care, and taxes measure earlier this year, may still not have the support it needs to pass, with progressive Democrats concerned about the effects on environmental protections.
Failing to pass a bill this year would be a disappointment to Manchin and his allies in the oil, gas, and coal sectors, who have pushed for years to loosen federal permitting requirements. Some renewable energy advocates also say that federal permitting must be reformed for wind and solar technology to reach their highest potential.
But it would be welcome news for environmental advocates, who say the bill would weaken a fundamental environmental law that protects communities from pollution while providing little in the way of new renewable energy capacity.
Congress is expected to be in session through much of December before adjourning for a new session in January, and a split government as Republicans take over the House with a slim majority.
“It’s a pretty tight calendar, and they have a lot they have to do,” said Brett Hartl, the government affairs director for the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, which opposes the Manchin bill, speaking of the lame-duck session of Congress. “So, do you spend a lot of time on a piece of legislation that is very deeply divisive?”
Environmental justice concerns
Environmental groups, including those in the environmental justice movement that seeks to protect marginalized communities from exposure to pollution, have opposed the bill from the start.
The measure would put time limits on environmental reviews and restrict communities’ power to challenge agency decisions in court.
“Senator Manchin’s legislation is a harbinger for the permanent silencing of environmental justice communities in the permitting process, while also eviscerating the rights to due process in a court of law should they deem it necessary to protect their communities from harm,” 70 environmental justice organizations said in a Nov. 15 letter to President Joe Biden.
The letter was distributed Monday by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a progressive Arizona Democrat who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee and has vocally opposed the Manchin bill.
The Manchin bill targets requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, demanding that environmental reviews of major projects be completed within two years and all others within one.
Those time limits don’t actually weaken the requirements of the law, but an artificial timeline without additional resources to complete reviews could lead to agencies cutting corners, said Aaron Weiss, the deputy director of the conservation group Center for Western Priorities.
“And when agencies cut corners on NEPA reviews, that’s how they get tied up in court for years,” Weiss said. “So the irony of at least the last Manchin proposal that we saw is it didn’t seem like it would actually do much to streamline NEPA reviews and, if anything, that it could backfire.”
A major sticking point in the Manchin bill is its provision approving the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a natural gas pipeline in Virginia and West Virginia.
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, said earlier this year that he opposed the bill because of that section. The pipeline should go through standard environmental reviews, he said.
The permitting bill was part of a deal Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made with Manchin to secure his support for Democrats’ major climate, health care, and taxes bill, which provided $370 billion in clean energy spending.
Schumer said at the time he didn’t love the idea of weakening environmental statutes, but it was a necessary concession to Manchin to pass the larger bill. He also said that reforms could speed up clean energy projects.
“In terms of the permitting reform, I didn’t like it, but it was something that Sen. Manchin wanted,” he said in a press conference immediately following Senate passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in August. “We modified it some, and, in fact, it has some very good things for the environment. It’s going to make permitting easier for clean energy.”
But that argument hasn’t caught on completely, as environmental advocates oppose trading away longstanding federal protections for permitting changes that would help both clean energy and fossil fuel production.
“It is pretty naïve to think that if we gut NEPA that the bigger winner would somehow be renewable energy,” said Hartl of the Center for Biological Diversity.
“I think (renewable energy) transmission is important,” said Lisa Frank, the executive director of the Washington office of the environmental group Environment America. “But we don’t see it as this do-or-die moment that we have to pass something by December or a clean energy future is wrecked.”
Prospects yet this year
There are indications Manchin and Schumer are continuing to work to appease the bill’s opponents and pass it this year, likely as an attachment to either a government funding bill or the annual defense authorization.
The White House is supportive. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during the Nov. 10 White House daily briefing that the defense bill should include Manchin’s permitting proposal.
But the permitting bill remains without critical support in Washington.
“As you saw when we tried it last time, there weren’t enough Republican votes,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday. “I’m working with Sen. Manchin to see what we can get done.”
Despite Schumer’s blessing, rank-and-file Democrats, especially on the House side, have largely not endorsed it.
Progressives have well-documented concerns about the bill. Neither progressives nor Republicans have given any indication that they are changing their positions. Grijalva, in the Monday letter, reaffirmed his opposition.
Republicans, in theory, should favor a proposal to streamline federal permits. Some Republicans have railed for years at the red tape that slows down and increases the cost of infrastructure building.
A more conclusive victory for Republicans in the midterms may have brought Democrats and environmental groups back to the negotiating table this year to try to hash out a deal — especially on clean energy transmission — before the less environmentally conscious GOP takes over in January, Hartl said.
But with a slim, single-digit majority in the House, Republican Leader and presumptive next House Speaker Kevin McCarthy may be unable to corral votes on a permitting bill, and progressives appear more willing to take their chances.
“The odds of Republican dysfunction and inability to function are extremely high in the next Congress,” Hartl said.
Still, Manchin and Schumer have pulled off surprises before. Most recently, Manchin insisted this summer he was still working on a climate bill that he could support, even as his colleagues in Congress and many other observers blamed his ambivalence for tanking the chances of any legislation to address climate.
He and Schumer emerged within weeks with a deal for a major bill.
An individual close to Manchin said in late November that the senator “continues to look for ways to pass it by the end of the year.”
But given the packed agenda — funding the government, authorizing annual military spending, perhaps raising the debt ceiling, and passing a bill to clarify how the Electoral College works — Democrats may prefer to stick to items they agree on, Hartl said.
by Jacob Fischler, Virginia Mercury
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia serves Thanksgiving meals for dozens of wild animals
Staff at The Wildlife Center of Virginia are checking ingredients and updating their guest list. Currently, the Center’s veterinary and rehabilitation teams are expecting to provide care, and species-specific meals, for approximately 98 animals on Thanksgiving Day. A sampling of which species are currently being cared for at the Center, including information on their histories, treatments, and plans of care, can be found at wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/current-patients or through links featured on the organization’s homepage at wildlifecenter.org.
On November 24, the Center anticipates to be caring for approximately 77 patients and 21 education animals. Wildlife rehabilitators will be preparing and delivering meals, as well as cleaning enclosures and updating patient records. Compared to the summer months when the Center had nearly 300 patients to serve on a daily basis, a guest list of 98 will be comparatively “easy” to handle.
Turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce aren’t on the Wildlife Center menus – instead of a traditional family-style Thanksgiving meal, the Wildlife Center crew will make dozens of species-specific diets, which cater to each species’ needs and each patient’s particular desires.
While the rehabilitation staff are busy in the kitchen, Center veterinarians will provide medical care for patients in need – distributing and administering medications, cleaning wounds and changing bandages, completing daily checks, and other medical procedures – and remain ready for any new patients that might arrive. New patient admissions are always a possibility, any day of the year. By the time the staff go home to their Thanksgiving dinners, all 98 animals will be fed, watered, and cared for.
The Center is able to provide quality healthcare to wild animals in need through the generosity and support of caring individuals. We send our supporters and friends our best wishes for a wonderful holiday. Our patients are thankful for their support… and we are too!
Looking at the NFL’s history of concussion failure after Tagovailoa scare
Earlier this season, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took two major hits to the head within four days, prompting questions about the NFL’s commitment to their concussion protocol.
Tagovailoa sustained an injury against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3 after being shoved, falling backward, and bouncing his head off the turf.
He stumbled as he got to his feet, with teammates supporting him until he was taken back to the locker room for evaluation.
The Dolphins tweeted that he was questionable to return with a head injury, but he returned for the second half.
Four days later, Tagovailoa started against the Cincinnati Bengals and was subsequently slammed to the turf, sustaining a frightening concussion.
Viewers watched in horror as he raised his locked-up hands in front of his face. Tagovailoa suffered the “fencing response,” one of the body’s responses to brain trauma where the arms go into an unnatural position, according to Healthline.
The incident was severe enough to spark revisions to the NFL’s concussion protocol and created “Tua’s Rule.” The new revision states that ataxia, poor muscle control that can result from injury, is grounds for immediate removal from the game.
A doctor, who remains unnamed, was let go from the Dolphins in the wake of the scare.
According to CBS, John Harbaugh, the Baltimore Ravens head coach, was astonished by what he saw Tagovailoa endure.
During a high stake playoff game versus the Buffalo Bills in January 2021, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson left the game with a concussion.
The Ravens did not score for the rest of the game, but when asked about the situation in the press conference after the season-ending loss, Harbaugh said, “I’m not frustrated at all. He was in the concussion protocol. He had a concussion and was ruled out with a concussion. That’s where it stands.”
Some have pointed to Jackson being taken out as a team prioritizing concussion protocol in even more serious games than Tagovailoa’s Week 4 match-up.
While sustained concussions have been down since the pandemic, concerns are still being raised about the failure of the concussion protocol.
Recently, eyes have fallen on the injury rate in special teams, the members of a team who are on the field during kicking plays. ESPN reported before the 2022-23 season that one in six concussions occur within special teams despite their plays only making up 17% of a game.
Given the high injury rates, the NFL is funding technologies to help lower the rate of concussions in practices but has no active intent to deploy them in the game.
After receiving $20,000 in funding from a competition that promotes safety innovation in the NFL, Guardian Caps were used by every NFL team before the start of this season.
The cap is Guardian Sport’s soft-shell helmet cover created with the purpose of minimizing the risk of concussions in practices after the founders realized that changing the “look and sound” of the sport is something that players and fans alike would not want. In response, Guardian Sports created an easily detachable cap for practices.
The padding on the helmet helps absorb the impact from a collision, potentially saving players from head trauma.
The NFL reported that all offensive linemen, tight ends, and linebackers were required to use the caps until the second preseason game.
Usage of the cap saw a 50 percent reduction in concussions compared to the average rate in 2018, 2019, and 2021.
The NFL tweeted, saying, “The Guardian Cap results in at least a 10% reduction in the severity of impact if one player is wearing it, and at least a 20% reduction in impact if two players in a collision are wearing it.”
However, the caps have not been received well by many players who used them at training camps. Notably, J.J. Watt, three-time NFL defensive player of the year, expressed his displeasure.
ESPN reported that Watt joked about being fined for how much he expressed distaste with the caps. He felt off balance wearing it and said it made him feel like a bobblehead.
The consequences of not taking any preventative measures for concussions are dire, and the use of Guardian Caps alone may not be enough to help players in the long run.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain condition caused by repetitive head trauma, has been found in 99 percent of donated brains of NFL players.
The Concussion Legacy Foundation says that behavioral symptoms linked to CTE can begin in a patient’s 20s. Commonly reported symptoms to include impulse control problems, aggression, mood swings, depression, paranoia, and anxiety.
Symptoms tend to worsen over time and give way to cognitive issues like confusion, impaired judgment, and dementia. Players face the risk of premature death while the disease continues to degenerate their brains.
One of the head researchers of CTE, Doctor Ann McKee, stressed that the numbers from this study should not be used to estimate the number of overall patients due to the studied brains all coming from symptomatic individuals.
However, CBS reported that the NFL expects 6,000 of 20,000 retired players to one day suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia.
No treatment for CTE exists.
The frightening number of potential cognitive issues caused by playing in the league prompted a $1 billion settlement, but black retired players struggled to qualify for dementia-related payouts due to racial bias.
“Race-norming” was used in the dementia testing, assuming that black players would have lower baseline scores. The profiling complicated the process for retired players to show they had a substantial decline in their mental state, according to The Washington Post.
Despite steps being taken by the NFL and the National Football League Players Association to begin addressing the dangers of head trauma and CTE, well over 1,600 players have been concussed since the 2015-16 season.
Dr. McKee stressed the importance of the NFL accepting and combatting their high concussion rate to PBS, saying, “The NFL concentrating on concussions means that athletes at the college level, the high school level, and hopefully at the Pop Warner level are going to pay attention to concussions, too.”
By Matthew Wynn
Capital News Service
House GOP lawmakers say they will probe Hunter Biden
WASHINGTON – Reps. On Thursday, James Comer of Kentucky and Jim Jordan of Ohio set the focus of the soon-to-be Republican-led House oversight and judiciary committees on an investigation of President Joe Biden and his family.
As the new 118th Congress takes shape and prepares to take office in January, the House will flip narrowly to Republican control, in turn giving the party the chairmanships of committees for the first time since the 115th Congress in 2019.
Comer is expected to chair the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Jordan likely will be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The pair, flanked by other Republican committee members, spoke at a press conference about the alleged international dealings of the president’s son Hunter Biden and how they implicated the president.
“This is an investigation of Joe Biden, the President of the United States, and why he lied to the American people about his knowledge and participation in his family’s international business schemes,” Comer said.
A spokeswoman for the House Democrats, Nelly Decker, told CNN the GOP’s targeting of the Bidens was politically motivated.
“Now that former President Trump is running for office again, House Republicans’ top priority is attacking President Biden and his family in a desperate attempt to return Mr. Trump to power,” Decker said.
More broadly, the future committee heads said they would prioritize investigating activities they consider overreaching by the federal government.
Jordan said the judiciary panel would target what it deems to be political within the Justice Department, keying in on specific actions that he said interfered with U.S. elections in the past.
Jordan alleged that the FBI spied on former President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016 and went on to speculate that the bureau’s raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in August was an attempt to influence the most recent election.
“Maybe it’d be nice if the FBI and the Justice Department just stayed out of it and let we, the people, decide who we think should represent us, who we think should lead us?” Jordan asked rhetorically. “That’s supposed to be how America works.”
On the oversight side, Comer said the committee had obtained two Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) from banks that involved members of the Biden family. SARs are filed by financial institutions to report known or suspected violations of law, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
“We’re going to do a lot of investigations. We’re going to do a lot of probing,” Comer said. “We’re focused on waste, fraud, and abuse, and there’s no shortage of that in this federal government; let me assure you that.”
Republicans on the oversight panel published an interim staff report entitled “A President Compromised: The Biden Family Investigation,” a 31-page document that included screenshots of emails, SARs, and articles that alleged corrupt dealings.
Most of the evidence presented was allegedly obtained from Hunter’s laptop, which was said to be recovered from a Wilmington, Delaware, repair shop in 2020.
A Justice Department investigation led by the U.S. attorney in Wilmington began in 2018 and remains open, but no charges have been brought against Hunter or the president thus far.
Neither Comer nor Jordan responded when asked about the possibility of an attempt to impeach Biden in the House.
“You’re going to be presented with something you haven’t been used to over the past four years: evidence,” Comer said.
Investigation remains ongoing into shooting incident at UVA
The criminal investigation remains ongoing into the tragic shootings that claimed the lives of three University of Virginia (UVA) students and injured two others on the evening of Nov. 13, 2022. Christopher D. Jones Jr., 22, of Petersburg, Va., had his first appearance in Albemarle County General District Court on Nov. 16, 2022 on three felony counts of 2nd degree murder, two felony counts of malicious wounding, and five felony counts of the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Jones is being held at the Charlottesville-Albemarle County Regional Jail without bond.
The investigation confirms that Jones had traveled with other UVA students on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022, to Washington, D.C. to attend a theater performance at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Following the play, the students and a professor ate dinner in the District. The professor and 22 students returned to Charlottesville in a chartered bus, arriving at UVA at approximately 10:15 p.m. that same day.
The chartered bus pulled to a stop at Culbreth Garage on The Grounds. As the students were getting up to exit the bus, Jones produced a weapon and began firing. As Jones exited the bus, he fired additional rounds and then fled the scene on foot. Jones left the area in his black Dodge Durango.
At approximately 11 a.m. on Nov. 14, 2022, Henrico County, Va. Police apprehended Jones without incident. The officer observed Jones’ SUV and initiated a traffic stop in the 5700 block of Edgelawn St. in the eastern area of the county.
Investigators are still actively piecing together Jones’ movements between the time he fled the shooting scene and was apprehended in Henrico County. At this stage of the investigation, state police is not in a position to comment on Jones’ motives behind the shootings.
Devin Chandler, 20, of Virginia Beach, Va., and D’Sean Perry, 22, of Miami, Fla., succumbed to their injuries at the scene. Lavel Davis Jr., 20, of Ridgeville, S.C., was transported to UVA Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries sustained in the shooting. Their remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner for autopsy and examination.
A 19-year-old student from Baton Rouge, La. and a 19-year-old student from Houston, Texas were also shot. They both were transported to UVA Medical Center for treatment of life threatening and non-life threatening injuries, respectively.
During the course of the investigation, a handgun was recovered in relative proximity to the shooting scene. No firearms were recovered inside the bus. A search warrant, executed by investigators on Jones’ residence in Charlottesville, resulted in the recovery of a rifle and a handgun. All firearms have been turned over as evidence to the ATF for processing.
The investigation remains ongoing at this time with the assistance of the University of Virginia Police, Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Albemarle County Police, Charlottesville Police, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Office of the Virginia Attorney General, ATF and FBI.