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Live Politics News – The New York Times


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David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, faced a contentious confirmation hearing in May.
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

The Biden administration will withdraw on Thursday the nomination of David Chipman, a former federal agent who had promised to crack down on the use of semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity gun magazines, to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to five people with knowledge of the situation.

The selection of Mr. Chipman, a longtime A.T.F. official who served as a consultant to the gun safety group founded by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, provoked a powerful backlash from the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun organizations who cast his confirmation as a threat to their Second Amendment rights.

President Biden, who nominated Mr. Chipman after receiving pressure from Ms. Giffords and other gun control proponents, needed the support of all 50 senators who caucus with the Democrats and the tiebreaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris to get Mr. Chipman confirmed.

In recent weeks, Senator Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, told leadership and Biden administration officials that he could not support Mr. Chipman, citing Mr. Chipman’s blunt public statements about gun owners in the past, people familiar with the situation said.

Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia who had originally suggested he was open to the pick, eventually soured on Mr. Chipman’s selection too.

As the hopes for his confirmation waned this summer, White House officials began discussing the possibility of bringing Mr. Chipman into the administration as an adviser, but no decisions have been made about his future. The administration has no immediate plans to appoint a new nominee, according to a person involved in the process who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the matter publicly.

As recently as last month, the White House signaled it was standing by its nominee, touting his 25 years of experience as an A.T.F. agent, but also acknowledging the uphill battle he faced to gain confirmation. White House officials pinned the blame solely on Republican lawmakers, not the Democrats who ultimately did not support the nomination, either.

“We are disappointed by the fact that many Republicans are moving in lock step to try to hold up his nomination and handcuff the chief federal law enforcement agency tasked with fighting gun crimes,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in August. “It speaks volumes to their complete refusal to tackle the spike in crime we’ve seen over the last 18 months.”

The withdrawal, which was first reported by The Washington Post, comes as a major blow to an embattled agency tasked with enforcing the nation’s gun laws at a time of rising rates of violent crime.

In the 48 years since its mission shifted primarily to firearms enforcement, the A.T.F. has been weakened by relentless assaults from the N.R.A. which critics have argued made it an agency engineered to fail.

Fifteen years ago, the N.R.A. successfully lobbied to make the director’s appointment subject to Senate confirmation — and has subsequently helped block all but one nominee from taking office.

And the N.R.A.’s behest, Congress has limited the bureau’s budget; imposed crippling restrictions on the collection and use of gun-ownership data, including a ban on requiring basic inventories of weapons from gun dealers; and limited unannounced inspections of gun dealers.

Annie Karni contributed reporting.

“What I want people to know is that this bill is for you,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of Democrats’ wide-ranging new social policy bill.
Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Five House committees on Thursday will begin formally drafting their pieces of Democrats’ far-reaching social policy and climate change bill that would spend as much as $3.5 trillion over the next decade — and raise as much in taxes and other revenue boosters — to reweave the social safety net and move the country away from fossil fuels.

The products of the drafting sessions, which could take several arduous days, are to be folded into a final bill later this fall that could be one of the most significant measures to reach the House floor in decades.

“What I want people to know is that this bill is for you,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said on Wednesday. “If you’re a woman with children at home and want to return to the work force; if you have people with disabilities at home and in home health care; if your children are little and you want universal pre-K; children learning, parents earning; if someone is sick in your family and you need family and medical leave, paid; the list goes on.”

Democrats plan to push through the legislation using a process known as reconciliation, which shields fiscal measures from filibusters and allows them to pass with a simple majority if they adhere to strict rules. The maneuver leaves the party little room for defections given its slim margins of control in Congress.

Republicans are unified in opposition to the emerging bill, and lobbyists for business and the affluent are also arrayed against it. They need only to peel away three or four House Democrats — or a single Senate Democrat — to bring the effort down.

“This week, as Democrats try to ram through their reckless $3.5 trillion tax-and-spend agenda, let’s not forget that American families and Main Street businesses will be left shouldering the burden of these devastating tax hikes,” said Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, which will begin drafting its hefty portion of the bill on Thursday, Friday and into next week.

The panel will start with the spending side this week before moving next week to the more difficult task of tax increases to pay for it. Among the items on its voluminous agenda: providing up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; expanding tax credits to pay for child care and elder care; raising the wages of child care workers; requiring employers to automatically enroll employees in individual retirement accounts or 401(k) plans; and expanding Medicare coverage to include dental, vision and hearing benefits.

The Education and Labor Committee’s portion of the bill, also under consideration on Thursday, would make prekindergarten universal for 3- and 4-year-olds; fund two years of tuition-free community college and increase the value of Pell Grants; provide money to rebuild and modernize school buildings; expand job training programs; and extend child nutrition programs bolstered on an emergency basis during the pandemic.

The Committee on Natural Resources, which has partial purview over climate change programs, will try to raise the fees for fossil fuel companies that explore and drill on public lands and waters; expand leasing of offshore sites for wind energy; spend up to $3.5 billion on a new civilian and tribal climate corps; and boost funding for wildfire control, climate resilience and adaptation to a warmer planet.

Smaller pieces of the bill will be drafted by the science and small business committees.

Senate Democrats, who are expected to skip the public drafting phase, have been meeting behind closed doors to try to work out their version of the bill and bring it directly to the floor.

They plan to submit a proposal to the Senate’s top rule enforcer as early as Friday that would legalize several groups of undocumented immigrants, including those who were brought to the country without authorization when they were children. It is up to the parliamentarian to determine whether specific measures qualify under Senate rules to be included in the final bill, which is supposed to be restricted to policies that directly affect government revenues.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Senator Amy Klobuchar on Capitol Hill in July. After a routine screening in February, she learned she had breast Stage 1A cancer. 
Credit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

Senator Amy Klobuchar said Thursday that she had been diagnosed and treated this year for breast cancer, and that her doctors said in August that her treatment had been successful.

“At this point my doctors believe that my chances of developing cancer again are no greater than the average person,” Ms. Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, wrote in a post on Medium.

Ms. Klobuchar, 61, said she learned in February that she had Stage 1A cancer after doctors at Mayo Clinic found “small white spots called calcifications during a routine mammogram.”

She said that she underwent various tests and she subsequently had a lumpectomy on the right breast to remove the cancer. In May, she said she completed radiation treatment.

She said that doctors determined in August that the treatment had been successful.

“Of course this has been scary at times,” Ms. Klobuchar said. Adding, “Cancer is the word all of us fear.”

The senator said she was lucky it was caught early and that she had delayed having a mammogram.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual breast cancer screenings for women who are 45 to 54 years old. Women who are 55 and older should be screened every two years, according to the society.

“It’s easy to put off health screenings, just like I did,” she wrote. “But I hope my experience is a reminder for everyone of the value of routine health checkups, exams, and follow-through.”

Ms. Klobuchar, the chairwoman of the Rules and Administration Committee, said she underwent treatment while the committee investigated the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and convened hearings on the new voting restrictions imposed by Republican-controlled state legislatures in Georgia and other parts of the country.

On Thursday, Ms. Klobuchar said on ABC’s Good Morning America that she had radiation two days after her father, Jim Klobuchar, died.

Ms. Klobuchar, who said her husband took her to her radiation treatments, said that her Senate colleagues did not know she had cancer.

“It’s something that no one wants to hear and no one wants to experience,” she said of the illness. “In the end, I just have this unbounding gratitude for the people that were there for me.”

Kellyanne Conway, former President Donald J. Trump’s counselor, greeting West Point cadets at the White House in 2019.
Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The White House pushed out several prominent Trump administration appointees from their posts on the advisory boards of U.S. military service academies, administration officials said on Wednesday.

The Biden administration was seeking to ensure that nominees and board members were “qualified to serve on them” and “aligned” with the president’s values, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said at a White House briefing. Chris Meagher, a White House spokesman, later confirmed that all of the appointees “either resigned or has been terminated from their position.”

Eighteen Trump appointees were asked to resign. They included former White House officials such as Kellyanne Conway, President Donald J. Trump’s counselor; Sean Spicer, his first White House press secretary; Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Mr. Trump’s second national security adviser; and Russell T. Vought, a former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget under Mr. Trump.

Several of them posted screenshots on social media of the letters they said they had received from the White House on Wednesday requesting that they resign by 6 p.m. or be removed from their positions.

Ms. Conway, one of Mr. Trump’s most prominent White House aides, wrote a letter refusing to resign from her advisory position at the Air Force Academy.

“President Biden, I’m not resigning, but you should,” she wrote on Twitter, with an image of her letter.

“Three former directors of presidential personnel inform me that this request is a break from presidential norms,” Ms. Conway wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Mr. Biden. “It certainly seems petty and political, if not personal.”

Other Trump appointees were similarly defiant. Mr. Vought also declined to resign as a member of the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy, noting on Twitter that members serve three-year terms. He was appointed to the board in December.

Advisory boards to the military service academies are a mix of lawmakers and presidential appointees who advise and oversee the institutions on matters including morale, discipline and curriculum. Presidential appointees serve for three years.





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