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Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., addressed the reliance that the U.S. currently has on China when it comes to key pharmaceutical ingredients, as medical professionals are hoping to stave off the coronavirus pandemic.

Blackburn told “Fox & Friends” Sunday morning that even before the current outbreak, she was pushing legislation to reduce that dependency and increase production in the U.S.

“Many of the pharmaceuticals that are necessary for treating some of these viruses,” Blackburn said, “they’re made only in China and we are dependent on them for these — they’re called APIs, active pharmaceutical ingredients.”

Blackburn went on to say that her bill “would incentive bringing that production back on U.S. shores” and “would change some of the legislation around the FDA … that deals with these emerging threats and new technologies and add advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing in this.”

The Republican senator specified that the bill has a $100 million grant pool for “centers of excellence” to work with pharmaceutical companies, and that she is now also looking into possible tax incentives.

Blackburn also addressed legislation currently being worked on by lawmakers to address the economic impact of the coronavirus.

“I want to make certain that what we do is targeted, that it is temporary, that’s not picking winners and losers,” she said. Blackburn also warned against repeating what she believes were mistakes during the response to the 2008 economic crash which “really slowed down the recovery.”

“We need to be certain that what we are doing doesn’t get in our own way,” she said.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: GOP Senator pushing legislation to reduce pharmaceutical dependency on China: ‘We are dependent on them’

Democratic congressional leaders and presidential candidates who were unsparing in their criticism of President Trump for the escalation with Iran over the past two weeks largely have gone silent now that the protests on the streets of Tehran and beyond have turned their rage toward the regime — and not the Trump White House.

Even as videos emerged online Monday that purportedly show Iranian police and security forces firing live ammunition to disperse protesters, so far among the 2020 Democratic candidates only former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., have spoken out in support of the people.

The protesters have railed against the government following the shoot-down of a passenger plane that the Iranian government initially denied involvement in — Tehran later admitted they downed the jet in a misfire during attacks against U.S. bases in Iraq, following Trump’s takedown of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Trump has issued statements supporting the demonstrations, but his political opponents have been almost entirely silent — after earlier criticizing the Soleimani strike and in some cases even faulting Trump for the fatal plane crash.

Journalist Yashar Ali, who is of Iranian descent and has friends and family there, called out the left for being silent when it comes to the protests, in a viral Twitter thread about the situation.

“I’ve gone through some of the most active and prominent liberal Twitter accounts and none of them mentioned the Iran protests today,” Ali tweeted Sunday. “These same people were actively tweeting about wanting to avoid war and attacking Trump for his decision.”

Ali continued, claiming that Trump’s critics have been using the situation in Iran to attack the president.

“In this context, Iranians are being used by certain people on the left (i didn’t say all) as a tool to attack President Trump. But these same people don’t seem to care to … support their right to protest?” he said.

Ali implied that because the protesters were criticizing their own leaders and not blaming President Trump, “it wasn’t worth it” for liberals to talk about them.

Biden was the first 2020 Democrat to speak out in support of the protesters.

“[N]one of us should be under any illusions about the Iranian regime, and the Iranian people — like all people everywhere — have the right to peaceful protest. The world should support them,” Biden tweeted, while using the message to take a shot at Trump as well, saying the president’s “reckless policies have needlessly endangered our interests in the Middle East.”

Klobuchar simply tweeted, “People should have the right to peacefully protest in any country, including Iran.”

The rest of the remaining Democratic 2020 presidential primary field, however, has been silent. Politico’s Ryan Lizza noticed the general silence from Democratic candidates on the matter, pointing out how some of them have been known for “championing” democracy in the past (Lizza later posted an update after Klobuchar posted her statement).

Other high-profile Democrats, such as House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., have yet to make any statement regarding the protests.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked if she supported the protesters during an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, and she responded by claiming that there were “different reasons” for the protests, including opposition to the U.S., despite being informed otherwise.

“The protesters are protesting as I understand, this brand of protesters about the fact that that plane went down and many students were on that plane and these are largely students in the street,” Pelosi said. When host George Stephanopoulos told her that the protestors were demonstrating against their government for lying to them and that they were calling for death to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Pelosi replied, “Well, whatever it is.”

She then went on to cite opposition to the U.S, stating that Iranians had protested against their leadership before, but that they “joined together” against the U.S. after Soleimani’s death, and that “there are different reasons why people are in the street.”

Finally, Pelosi expressed support for the protesters, saying, “Of course we would love to see the aspirations of the people of Iran realized with a better situation there.”

The so-called “Squad” – freshman congresswomen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. – has refrained from speaking about the protests, though Omar had previously expressed support for the Iranian people after U.S. forces carried out the airstrike that killed Soleimani.

“This is an opportunity to make sure that there is a face on every single Iranian who will be impacted if we continue to escalate the situation and find ourselves in war,” Omar told a reporter.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Dems silent on Iran protests as demonstrators blame regime, not Trump, for plane crash

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced overnight that she plans on taking measures to potentially curb President Trump’s ability to conduct military operations against Iran.

Pelosi and other Democrats have been critical of Trump’s decision to conduct an airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, claiming he did not properly notify Congress in advance and warning about the risk of escalation in the region. Trump has also threatened additional action if Iran retaliates for Soleimani’s death.

“This week, the House will introduce and vote on a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to fellow Democrats, referring to a similar Senate resolution to be introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. “It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.”

The first War Powers Resolution was passed in 1973 in an effort to prevent presidents from using the military without congressional approval. Since then, questions of presidential compliance have become common, with controversy stemming from President Bill Clinton’s actions in Kosovo and President Barack Obama’s operations in Libya.

On Saturday, the White House sent Congress formal notification of the drone strike under the War Powers Act, a senior administration official told The Associated Press. The notification, required by law within 48 hours of the introduction of American forces into an armed conflict or a situation that could lead to war, had to be signed and sent to Congress.

The document sent Saturday to congressional leadership, the House speaker and the Senate president pro tempore was entirely classified, according to a senior aide for the Democrats and a congressional aide speaking to the AP.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., also sent a letter to the president Sunday asking him to fully declassify the notification, claiming that “there appears to be no legitimate justification” for keeping it secret.

Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon that “legal notice is not required” for him to take additional action, but claimed that his online posts provided notification to Congress that he “will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner” if Iran attacks “any U.S. person or target.”

Iran has vowed to retaliate and avenge the death of Soleimani. Iranian officials also announced they would be abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal, signaling threats of further nuclear proliferation.

Trump had tweeted Saturday that even Iran’s cultural sites were potential targets for U.S. military action. “They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Sunday.

Earlier that day, Iraqi lawmakers approved a resolution calling to expel U.S. troops from the country, who were sent there more than four years ago to aid in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.

Fox News’ Frank Miles and Vandana Rambaran and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Pelosi moves to limit Trump’s actions in Iran with War Powers Resolution vote

President Trump‘s campaign offered a gift of sorts to supporters in time for Christmas, with a new website geared toward helping them win arguments with “snowflake” relatives while they’re home for the holidays.

The site, SnowFlakeVictory.com, explores 12 issues with the intent of showing readers “how to win an argument with your liberal relatives.” Topics include the economy, immigration and Trump’s border wall, health care, trade deals, impeachment, Joe Biden and the Green New Deal.

“Family holidays. Full of love. Full of laughter. And full of the inevitable conversations with the family liberal who just does not want to believe how great America is doing with President Trump in office,” one message says.

Trump campaign national press secretary Kayleigh McEnany discussed the initiative Wednesday morning on “Fox & Friends,” and how it counters similarly themed tip guides from the left aimed at prepping readers for dealing with a Trump-supporting family member.

“Those articles operate from a position of fear. You know, you fear that MAGA uncle,” McEnany said. “Well, this is empowering. This is supposed to say, hey if you encounter a liberal snowflake, don’t back down, here are the facts, the facts much of the media won’t share with you.”

On a more serious note, the White House sent out an official Christmas message from the president Wednesday morning, paying respect to military service members and more.

“As we celebrate Christmas, we remember the precious religious liberties our forefathers so righteously fought to secure. We also pause to pay tribute to those courageous men and women of our Armed Forces who continue to fight for our cherished freedoms. As Commander in Chief, I salute them for their service and thank their family members for their shared sacrifice in this noble mission, especially during the holiday season,” Trump said in the message.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Trump campaign offers online class in how to debate ‘snowflake’ relatives

President Trump announced Wednesday that conditions have been met between Turkey and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for what he called a “permanent ceasefire” between the two sides and that the United States is lifting sanctions on Ankara that were implemented following the invasion of northern Syria.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said that while a “permanent ceasefire” will be tough to maintain in the volatile region, he hopes it will last and end the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds.

“I do believe it will be permanent,” he said. “This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else…we’ve done something very, very special.”

Trump delivered the statement amid bipartisan criticism over his recent decision to pull back U.S. forces from northern Syria, opening the door for Turkey to launch a military offensive. But the administration has sought to halt the fighting. The ceasefire required Kurdish forces formerly allied with the U.S. against the Islamic State group to move out of a roughly 20-mile zone on the Turkish border. With Kurdish forces out of the zone, Turkey will halt its assault, Trump said.

“We’ve saved the lives of many, many Kurds,” he added.

Trump added that if Turkey breaches the cease-fire, the sanctions could be reimposed.

“The sanctions are lifted unless something happens that we’re not happy with,” he added.

Trump’s statement follows an early morning tweet, where he announced a “safe zone” along the Turkey-Syria border, and voiced optimism after the initial 120-hour pause in the Turkish military operation there ended.

“Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended. Kurds are safe and have worked very nicely with us,” Trump tweeted. “Captured ISIS prisoners secured.”

The U.S. withdrawal was followed immediately by Turkish aggression, and Trump faced criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike who blamed him for allowing the violence to go unchecked and leaving Kurdish allies to fend for themselves. Turkey and Russia reached an agreement Tuesday that would transform the map of northeast Syria, installing their forces along the border and filling the void left by the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Trump said Wednesday that nearly all U.S. troops will be leaving Syria but some will remain to safeguard oil fields in Syria. Russian forces have already begun joint patrols with Turkish forces along the Turkish-Syrian border.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Ankara last week to work out the initial cease-fire. Though that period has since lapsed, Pence said earlier there’s an opportunity for a permanent cease-fire in the region.

James Jeffrey, a career diplomat who oversees Washington’s role in the global fight against the Islamic State, also told lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he does not believe the troop withdrawal added to Turkey’s decision to invade northern Syria. Jeffrey, however, did concede that if U.S. forces had been told to stand their ground amid a Turkish invasion, Turkey may have thought otherwise about crossing the border.

Under the recent 10-point deal, Russia and Turkey have given Kurdish fighters 150 hours starting at noon Wednesday — meaning, until next Tuesday at 6 p.m. — to withdraw from the border.

Russian and Syrian government forces would move into that area immediately to ensure the Kurdish fighters pull back 20 miles from the border. Then at the end of the 150 hours, Russian-Turkish patrols would begin along a six-mile-wide strip of the border.

The exception would be the region around the town of Qamishli at the far eastern end of the border, which has some of the densest Kurdish population.

Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian newswires, that if the Kurds do not complete their withdrawal by the Tuesday deadline, Turkey would resume their offensive.

“It’s quite obvious that if the Kurdish units don’t withdraw with their weapons then Syrian border guards and Russian military police will have to step back. And the remaining Kurdish units will be steamrolled by the Turkish army,” Peskov said.

Fox News’ Melissa Leon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Ronn Blitzer, Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: Trump announces ‘permanent ceasefire’ in Syria between Turkey and Kurds; lifts sanctions on Ankara

President Trump has met resistance from both parties after his decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria, but some of the rhetoric coming from Democrats is almost the opposite of what came from party members when President Barack Obama pulled forces out of Iraq.

California Democrats Rep. Maxine Waters and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, have been vocal opponents of Trump’s troop withdrawal, after supporting Obama’s efforts almost exactly eight years later.

“As the war in Iraq draws to a close, it is my hope that this conflict will serve as a solemn reminder of the costs of war,” Waters said in a statement issued Oct. 21, 2011. “We must carefully reexamine our approach to national security and how we view the United States’ role in promoting international peace and security. If we are to remain leaders in the world, we must always use our best judgment to determine when and how we engage other nations and other actors – particularly if we are considering the use of military force.”

Waters’ approach to the United States’ role in world affairs is similar to Trump’s recent warnings against “fighting other people’s wars.”

Cut to Oct. 7, 2019, and Waters blasted Trump for leaving Kurdish forces to fend for themselves against Turkish attacks.

“If the United States abandons the Kurds, these courageous allies will never trust us again,” Waters said in a statement, adding that “Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds is a gift to Russia, Iran and ISIS.”

That same day, Pelosi came out against Trump, warning that leaving northern Syria could lead to an ISIS resurgence.

“This reckless, misguided decision undermines the efforts by our brave servicemembers and our allies to end ISIS’s tyranny,” she said.

But while Republicans had similar concerns about withdrawing from Iraq in 2011, Pelosi praised Obama “for a promise made and a promise kept, honoring the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement and the wishes of the American people to bring all our troops home by the end this year.”

Pelosi stormed out of a meeting with Trump Wednesday after what she said was a “meltdown” by the president.

One of the Democratic frontrunners for the 2020 presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was also critical of Trump, despite being historically anti-war.

“You don’t turn your back on an ally that lost 11,000 troops fighting against terrorism through a tweet and a discussion with Erdogan,” Sanders told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. This criticism came despite Sanders acknowledgment that “I am a strong opponent of endless wars.”

That position was made evident in 2011 when Sanders backed Obama’s Iraq withdrawal.

“I applaud the president’s decision and have been advocating that position for quite a while,” adding, “Now is the time to bring our troops home, lower our military budget, and use those funds to create jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure and lowering our national debt.”

On Thursday, Trump vented about Democratic criticism. “I am the only person who can fight for the safety of our troops & bring them home from the ridiculous & costly Endless Wars, and be scorned. Democrats always liked that position, until I took it,” he said.

Republicans have been equally critical of Trump, with 129 GOP members voting for a resolution in opposition to the withdrawal, joining a unanimous Democratic contingent. Sen. Lindsey Graham has been particularly vocal, leading Trump to accuse the senator of wanting to “stay in the Middle East for the next 1,000 years.”

Graham, however, was no supporter of Obama, and lumped Trump and his predecessor together in making what he believes to be critical foreign policy errors.

“President Trump is being told EXACTLY what President Obama was told before he withdrew from Iraq,” Graham tweeted Wednesday. “He appears to be hell-bent on making the same mistakes in Syria as President Obama made in Iraq.”

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Dems who praised Obama for troop withdrawal now highly critical of Trump

President Trump targeted Hunter Biden Sunday morning, implying that the son of former Vice President Joe Biden has disappeared — hours after Hunter Biden’s attorney announced his client is stepping down from the board of a Chinese company and vowed that he will not work with foreign companies if his father becomes president.

Trump and his own attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have accused Hunter Biden of improperly benefiting from business dealings in China and Ukraine while Joe Biden was vice president.

“Where’s Hunter? He has totally disappeared!” Trump tweeted. “Now looks like he has raided and scammed even more countries! Media is AWOL.” Trump did not elaborate on which countries, or what the alleged scams were.

Earlier Sunday morning, Hunter Biden’s attorney George Mesires published an online statement on his client’s behalf, providing detailed explanations for Biden’s ties to Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings and the Chinese firm BHR (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Company.

“Despite extensive scrutiny, at no time has any law enforcement agency, either domestic or foreign, alleged that Hunter engaged in wrongdoing at any point during his five-year term,” Mesires said about Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma, where Biden was a board member until April 2019.

Mesires said that Biden was “a non-executive director” of Burisma, for which he was compensated, but was not part of the management team.

Burisma was the subject of an investigation by Ukrainian authorities, but the case was dropped. The prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, was fired after then-Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold money from Ukraine unless Shokin was removed. Joe Biden denies that this had anything to do with his son, as Shokin was accused of corruption.

As for BHR, Mesires claimed that Hunter Biden “has not received any compensation” for serving on the board, and “has not received any return on his investment.”

Still, Mesires stated that Hunter Biden plans to resign from BHR’s board by Oct. 31, and that if Joe Biden becomes the Democratic presidential nominee and goes on to defeat President Trump in the 2020 election, Hunter “will agree not to serve on boards of, or work on behalf of, foreign-owned companies.”

Democrats are presently investigating Trump for possible impeachment based on his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, where he asked Zelensky to assist Giuliani with an investigation of Hunter and Joe Biden’s Ukrainian connections.

Trump’s critics, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., have accused Trump of pressuring Zelensky to get involved by threatening to withhold military aid. Trump denied wrongdoing and insisted the call was “perfect.” Zelensky has also stated that he was not pressured.

Democrats have subpoenaed several Trump administration officials and diplomats for documents as lawmakers probe issues surrounding the phone call.

In a Saturday conversation on “Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” Trump referred to the impeachment inquiry as a “hoax” and “so bad for our country.” He called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not having a formal House vote on an impeachment inquiry, saying, it was because she “can’t get the votes because we’re [the GOP] doing so well right now.”

Fox News’ Melissa Leon contributed to this report.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: ‘Where’s Hunter?’ Trump asks, as Biden’s son promises not to work with foreign companies if father wins presidency in 2020

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib told Detroit’s chief of police that he should hire only black people as analysts to run their facial recognition software because, she claimed, non-black people think they all look alike.

The suggestion came Monday as Chief James Craig gave Tlaib a tour of the Real Time Crime Center, where the department uses facial recognition technology to find suspects. Craig was showing Tlaib how the software works, and how analysts use it to identify and locate individuals. But the tour quickly turned contentious as the freshman Michigan congresswoman made repeated requests that were shot down by the chief.

“Analysts need to be African-Americans, not people that are not,” Tlaib said. “It’s true, I think non-African-Americans think African-Americans all look the same!” She said she has witnessed people confuse Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who both are black and bald.

Craig, who is black, did not go for Tlaib’s suggestion.

“I trust people who are trained, regardless of race, regardless of gender,” he responded.

This came after Tlaib claimed that “the error rate among African-Americans, especially women,” was 60 percent.

“I understand the technology real well,” Craig said. He showed Tlaib how his analysts examine the software’s results before making determinations.

“See if you can get some of our money back until they fix it,” Tlaib said, to which Craig simply replied, “No.”

When asked if defendants were prosecuted solely based on facial recognition results, Craig said they were not.

The tour, which was recorded and then posted by a reporter with The Detroit News, got off to a rocky start when Tlaib asked the reporter, “Are you facial recognizing me right now? I’m sorry who are you and why are you videotaping me?”

WATCH THE VIDEO:

Afterward, the Detroit News reporter followed up on Tlaib’s assertion that only black people should be hired to use the facial recognition software.

“Are you saying white people are not qualified to –,” he said, before Tlaib cut him off.

“No, I think there’s actually been studies out that it’s hard for, you know, like African-Americans would identify African-Americans, similar, Latino same thing,” she said.

When asked if that would mean African-Americans should not be allowed to identify white people, Tlaib said, “Look it up,” and walked away.

The Detroit Police Department extended the invitation to Tlaib in August, after she described facial recognition technology as “bulls—.”

Craig made headlines in 2015 after he said more citizens should be armed. While in the past he supported increased restrictions on weapons and ammunition, his position changed after visiting Maine and Los Angeles, where permits for carrying concealed weapons are easier to acquire.

“I changed my orientation real quick,” Craig said. “Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Rashida Tlaib, in contentious tour, tells Detroit police chief to hire only black analysts for facial recognition program

A former police officer made a bold proclamation during a congressional hearing Wednesday regarding a proposed assault-weapons ban: she would not comply.

Dianna Muller, who served in the Tulsa Police Department for 22 years and is the founder of gun advocacy group The DC Project, was among the witnesses at the House Judiciary Committee hearing. The session on an otherwise contentious issue flew largely under the radar amid the Trump-Ukraine controversy and Democrats’ impeachment push. But reflecting the gun control divide in the country — amid a spate of deadly mass shootings that prompted renewed calls for strict laws — Muller said that such a ban would force lawful gun owners to either give up their arms or become criminals.

“Please don’t legislate the 150 million people just like me into being criminals. It has happened. You’ve already done it,” Muller said, referring to the Trump administration’s ban on bump stocks, the devices that use a semi-automatic weapon’s recoil to make it rapidly fire like an automatic. “I was a bump stock owner, and I had to make a decision: do I become a felon, or do I comply?”

Should the government pass an assault-weapons ban, Muller declared, “I will not comply.”

Muller and others at the hearing focused on the practicality of a ban, pointing out what they claimed were mainly “cosmetic” differences between weapons such as the AR-15 and standard semi-automatic hunting rifles. This issue was also raised by Heritage Foundation senior legal policy analyst Amy Swearer when Rep.Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., went down the line of witnesses asking if they believed hunting rifles should be banned if they are semi-automatic.

Swearer said no, stating that there was no difference in the mechanics or function of an “assault weapon” or a semi-automatic hunting rifle. Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley, who recalled the recent mass shooting in her city, did not give a definitive answer to Sensenbrenner’s question, nor did Dr. Alejandro Rios Tovar, a trauma surgeon who treated victims of the attack in El Paso, Texas. Charlottesville, Va., Chief of Police RaShall Brackney indicated she was in favor of a ban on “any weapon that could be used to hunt individuals.”

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., countered the idea of a hunting rifle ban by referring to his assault-weapon ban bill. Cicilline said that more than 200 weapons are exempt from the bill, so there is really no issue of eliminating hunting rifles.

Swearer also testified against the idea that law-abiding citizens have no need for weapons like AR-15s, recalling how her mother, a gun novice, had difficulty accurately firing a handgun at a shooting range, but was much more effective when she used an AR-15.

“As I read the Second Amendment, it doesn’t say the right to bear arms shall not be infringed unless the gun has scary features,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said.

Swearer also noted that some features like barrel shrouds enhance the safety of a weapon for its user. But David Chipman, senior policy adviser at the Giffords Law Center, raised a counterpoint noting that a barrel shroud could allow a shooter to get a better grip on a weapon “in a way that would increase your ability to spray fire and kill more people” without burning their hand.

One feature that was a concern for House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is the ability for some weapons to be used with high-capacity magazines that allow users to fire dozens of rounds without reloading.

Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, testified in agreement with Nadler that a ban on such magazines, along with a clear definition of “assault weapon” that would eliminate loopholes under the 1994 crime law, would be effective.

Congress and the Trump administration have been in talks for weeks regarding possible gun legislation, but discussion of taking away guns that are currently legal has led to criticism from both parties. After 2020 Democratic hopeful Beto O’Rourke declared during a debate, “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, AK-47,” Cicilline said, “That message doesn’t help.” President Trump said that O’Rourke was making it “much harder” to reach a deal on gun legislation with that sort of rhetoric.

Trump’s focus when it comes to gun control has mainly been on background checks. The White House was also circulating a one-page document on Capitol Hill detailing a possible gun background-check proposal that would require private sellers – not just licensed vendors – to conduct background checks for all advertised sales, though Attorney General Bill Barr said Trump has not yet made a “firm decision” on what he ultimately will support.

An August USA Today poll showed that most American voters support increased background checks, with 85 percent of Republican voters supporting background checks for all gun sales. Presently, only federally licensed vendors are required to conduct background checks, allowing private individuals to sell without them under what has been referred to as the “gun show loophole.”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News last week that he expected an announcement on new gun legislation “very soon.” Gidley said Trump wanted to make sure that any new laws would address actual problems and not just be “feel-good legislation.”

But the Democrats’ impeachment push could complicate matters. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had resisted impeachment, announced Tuesday that an impeachment inquiry would be launched. Reflecting how policy debates could take a back seat, Pelosi said in private meetings with lawmakers that Trump called her to discuss gun legislation, but she soon changed the subject to his phone call with the Ukrainian president in which they discussed investigating Joe Biden, which stoked the latest calls for impeachment.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Sparks fly at assault-weapons ban hearing on Capitol Hill, ex-cop vows she would ‘not comply’

The single-payer health care plan known as “Medicare-for-all” now enjoys support from more than half of Democrats in the House of Representatives, with top-ranking Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., adding his name to the list of co-sponsors.

The bill, introduced in February by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., calls for the replacement of private health insurance with a government plan covering everyone. Jeffries became the 118th co-sponsor.

“Given the enduring nature of our health care access and affordability crisis, more must be done,” Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Jayapal celebrated Jeffries’ support the day before his name officially was added to the sponsor list, tweeting that it is “a huge step in the fight for #MedicareForAll!”

The widespread support in the caucus underscores how quickly the party has embraced the costly policy, popular with the progressive base, since the last presidential election.

When she introduced the bill in February, Jayapal described it as “a complete transformation of our health care system where there are no private insurance companies that provide these core benefits,” saying it would be “universal care, everybody in, nobody out.” At the time, the bill immediately drew support from 106 Democrats.

Since then, another 12 have added their names, with Jeffries being the latest.

The bill would virtually do away with private insurance by making it illegal for private companies to provide the same coverage as the public plan. Jayapal predicted that by doing away with private insurance plans, approximately 1 million people who work for insurance companies would lose their jobs.

“We have thought carefully about how we’d take care of those folks because we think those people are very important,” Jayapal said during a May town hall at American University.

“We have set aside one percent a year of the total cost of the bill for five years to take care of a transition for employees in the private insurance sector,” she explained. “If they are able to retire, that might be one, pension guarantees, job training so they can move into a different system.”

A Senate version of “Medicare-for-all” has been pushed by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Candidates have split over just how far they are willing to go when it comes to socialized health care. Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., favor a public system that abolishes private insurance, while others such as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg have called for keeping private options for those who prefer to keep their existing plans.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Majority of House Dems now support ‘Medicare-for-all’

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