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Trump shuts down blog he started less than a month ago – US politics live

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Jen Psaki appeared to downplay Joe Biden’s veiled criticism of Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in his speech yesterday on the Tulsa race massacre.

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the massacre in Tulsa, the president touched on the hurdles in advancing his legislative agenda because of Democrats’ narrow majorities in both chambers of Congress.

“I hear all the folks on TV saying, ‘Why doesn’t Biden get this done?’” the president told the Tulsa crowd. “Well, because Biden only has a majority of, effectively, four votes in the House and a tie in the Senate, with two members of the Senate who vote more with my Republican friends.”

The White House press secretary claimed that Biden’s comment was only meant to reflect the difficulty of discussing complex policy negotiations in a television format.

“I don’t think he was intending to convey anything other than a little bit of commentary on TV punditry,” Psaki said.

Jen Psaki was asked about the ransomware attack on the meat-processing company JBS, which forced its US factories to halt operations.

The incident came weeks after another ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline disrupted gasoline supply in several east-coast states.

The White House previously said the hackers were most likely a criminal group based in Russia, and Psaki said Joe Biden will discuss recent cyber attacks when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in two weeks.

“President Biden certainly thinks Putin and the Russian government have a role to play in stopping these attacks,” Psaki said.

Updated

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing with reporters.

Psaki opened the briefing by reiterating the administration’s announcement that it is launching a “month of action” to get more Americans vaccinated by July 4.

The month of action will involve an “all of America sprint” to reach Joe Biden’s goal of having 70% of American adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4, Psaki said.

As of today, 63% of American adults have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose, according to the White House.

The Biden administration has announced a new series of initiatives aimed at encouraging more Americans to get vaccinated against coronavirus, as the president looks to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

The White House announced that four of largest US childcare providers will offer free childcare for caregivers who are getting the vaccine or recovering after their shot.

Pharmacy chains across the country, including Albertsons, CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens, will also offer extended hours from now until July 4 to make it easier to get vaccinated.

Vice-President Kamala Harris is launching a “nation-wide tour to reach millions of Americans who still need protection against the virus”.

“The Vice President’s travel will be anchored in the South, and the First Lady, the Second Gentleman, and members of the Cabinet will also join the Administration’s tour to communities across the country,” the White House said in its factsheet about the new initiatives.

The administration is also partnering with Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons to start “Shots at the Shop,” which will allow the businesses to share vaccine information with their customers.

“The ‘Shots at the Shop’ initiative will invite participation from across the country, with a particular focus on supporting shops in some of the hardest-hit localities still experiencing significant gaps in vaccination rates,” the White House said.

Joe Biden will likely tout all these new developments when he delivers an update on vaccine distribution efforts this afternoon.

Arizona’s top election official announces gubernatorial bid after criticizing Republican ‘audit’

The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:

Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s top election official who became one of the leading voices beating back conspiracies about the 2020 election, announced Wednesday she was seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in her state.

Arizona, where Donald Trump narrowly lost to Joe Biden in November, has become a focal point for conspiracy theorists who falsely believe the election was stolen. After the election, Hobbs beat back baseless claims of fraud and ensured that the state’s presidential electors were certified for Biden to properly reflect the outcome of the popular vote.

Katie Hobbs
(@katiehobbs)

I’m running for Governor to deliver transparency, accountability, and results for Arizonans — just like I’ve done my whole career.

Join me: https://t.co/LM2sCDVynA pic.twitter.com/5y3QtFvYAk

June 2, 2021

“We had a job to do, and that job was simple: Count every vote. When you’re under attack, some would have you believe you have two choices: To fight or give in. But there’s a third option: Get the job done,” Hobbs said. “The other side isn’t offering policies to make our lives better. They’re offering conspiracies that only make our lives worse.”

In recent months, Hobbs, elected to her office in 2018, has taken on a leading role in monitoring and calling out a GOP-led review of 2.1m ballots cast in Maricopa county, the most populous in Arizona.

She has drawn attention to shoddy practices auditors are using and monitors deployed by her office have regularly noted significant problems in procedures. A compilation of notes published by Hobbs’ office on Tuesday, for example, detail security lapses, technological glitches, and confusion about who is in charge. The details revealed by her office have underscore how unprofessional the audit is.

Hobbs’ entrance in the governor’s race will likely bring even more attention to who her successor will be. Mark Finchem, an Arizona legislator who is a prominent advocate of the Stop the Steal movement, is already seeking the Republican nomination.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly told Democrats that multiple options remain to launch an expansive review of the Capitol insurrection, after Senate Republicans killed the bill to form a bipartisan commission to study the attack.

NBC News reports:


During a conference call with members of the House Democratic Caucus, Pelosi detailed options, including the potential the Senate could vote a second time and try to overcome the Republican filibuster, according to two sources who were on the call.

She shot down a suggestion raised by some House Democrats that President Joe Biden could form a presidential commission, calling it not a workable idea, one source on the call said.

A presidential commission would need Congress to grant subpoena power and allocate funding. Both chambers would have to vote to approve, which looks unlikely after the Senate Republicans’ filibuster last week.

Republicans successfully blocked the commission bill from advancing last week, after only six Republican senators voted with Democrats to start debate on the legislation. Democrats needed 10 Republican votes to overcome the filibuster of the bill.

Kate Lyons

The US secretary of state has warned leaders of Pacific countries about “threats to the rules-based international order” and “economic coercion”, in what appears to be a veiled swipe at China’s growing influence in the region.

Antony Blinken was addressing leaders and their delegates from 11 Pacific countries and territories including Fiji, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, Palau and Marshall Islands as part of the Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders, which is held in Hawaii.

Blinken reiterated US support for Pacific island nations as they face the “shared challenges that we have to confront together”, including Covid-19 and the climate crisis.

But the main focus of his televised address was China’s growing influence in the region.

“Economic coercion across the region is on the rise. The US is all for more development and investment in the islands, but that investment should adhere to international standards for environmentally and socially sustainable development and should be pursued transparently, with public consultation,” he said. “And every country, no matter its size, should always be able to make choices without fear of retribution.”

The CDC’s decision to loosen mask requirements has not led to any noticeable increase in the spread of coronavirus, as the number of new cases in the US has continued to fall in the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, the number of first-shot vaccine appointments has leveled off in recent weeks after a worrisome decline in the month leading up to the mask announcement.

The New York Times explains:


First, new Covid cases have continued to decline at virtually the same rate as during the month before the C.D.C. announcement, which came on May 13 …

Overall, daily new cases have fallen by almost 75 percent since mid-April and by more than 90 percent from the peak in January. …

On the other hand, the C.D.C.’s change has had a noticeable effect on behavior in a positive way. …

For the previous month, the number of daily shots in the U.S. had been falling, as the country began to run out of adults who were eager to be vaccinated. With a few days of the mask announcement, the decline leveled off.

The White House shared the New York Times piece in an email with reporters, and Joe Biden will likely tout the encouraging trends when he delivers an update on vaccination efforts this afternoon.

Trump’s ‘From the Desk’ blog to be discontinued

Donald Trump has shuttered the blog that he started less than a month ago, a senior adviser to the former president said.

Jason Miller told CNBC that the page “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” had been deleted from the former president’s website and “will not be returning”.

“It was just auxiliary to the broader efforts we have and are working on,” Miller said in an email to CNBC. “Hoping to have more information on the broader efforts soon, but I do not have a precise awareness of timing.”

The blog, which debuted last month, was a clear effort by Trump to amplify his message despite his social media bans, which were put in place after he incited the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

However, the blog never gained much traction, in part because of readers’ inability to reply to Trump’s statements, as they would do on Twitter or Facebook.

Twitter also suspended an account that pulled content from Trump’s blog, @DJTDesk, because the social media company said it violated the platform’s ban evasion policy.

Updated

Julian Borger

Portable microwave weapons capable of causing the mysterious spate of “Havana Syndrome” brain injuries in US diplomats and spies have been developed by several countries in recent years, according to leading American experts in the field.

A US company also made the prototype of such a weapon for the marine corps in 2004. The weapon, codenamed Medusa, was intended to be small enough to fit in a car, and cause a “temporarily incapacitating effect” but “with a low probability of fatality or permanent injury”.

There is no evidence that the research was taken beyond the prototype phase, and a report on that stage has been removed from a US navy website.

Scientists with knowledge of the project said that ethical considerations preventing human experimentation contributed to the project being shelved – but they said such consideration had not hindered US adversaries, including Russia, and possibly China.

“The state of that science has for the most part been, if not abandoned, pretty much left fallow in the United States – but it has not been fallow elsewhere,” said James Giordano, professor of neurology and ethics at Georgetown University Medical Center.

In case you missed it last night: A Democratic candidate won the special election to fill Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s open House seat.

Democratic state legislator Melanie Stansbury defeated Republican state senator Mark Moores by about 25 points, delivering a resounding victory for Democrats after the party’s poor performance in a Texas special election last month.

Melanie Stansbury
(@MelanieforNM)

Thank you New Mexico! ❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/p0VnZvAg66

June 2, 2021

Delivering a victory speech in Albuquerque, Stansbury said, “This moment is not just about standing up, but about leaning into the moment and bringing fundamental change to our politics and to our country.”

Stansbury’s win will help to slightly bolster Democrats’ very narrow majority in the House. Once Stansbury is seated to represent New Mexico’s 1st District, Democrats will have a 220-211 advantage over Republicans.

The margin of Stansbury’s victory was also encouraging to Democrats, given that Joe Biden carried the New Mexico district by 23 points in November. Haaland also won reelection to her seat by 16 points last year.

Stansbury’s ability to improve upon Biden and Haaland’s numbers gave some Democrats hope that they can hold off a wave of Republican victories in next year’s midterms. However, the midterms are still about a year and a half away, so time will tell.

Texas Democrats set example by facing down Republican voting rights assault

The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:

For nearly five months, Democrats in state legislatures across the country have been scraping to do everything they can to stop an unprecedented onslaught of new voting restrictions from Republicans.

They have given searing speeches on the floors of state legislatures. They have supported protests and even gotten arrested demonstrating against the bills. They have filed lawsuits challenging new restrictions almost immediately after they were signed into law.

But despite their efforts, Democrats have not been able to stop sweeping new voting restrictions from going into place in states such as Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Iowa and Montana, where Republicans have used their legislative majorities to ram through the bills.

But late on Sunday night something different happened in Texas.

With Republicans on the verge of passing one of the most restrictive new voting laws in the country, Democrats in the state house of representatives walked out of the legislature, denying Republicans a quorum and killing the legislation. Governor Greg Abbott has fumed over the development and has pledged to call a special session to pass the bill.

Be sure to read the fine print on the Anheuser-Busch vaccine giveaway: only 200,000 participants will get money to buy a free round after the US hits Joe Biden’s vaccination goal.

And it may be a round for one person, as the beer company is only giving winners a $5.00 virtual debit card to purchase an Anheuser-Busch product.

Those who want the chance to win one of the debit cards will also have to create a My Cooler Rewards account and upload a “picture of your favorite place to grab a beer”.

Biden to announce partnership with Anheuser-Busch to encourage vaccinations

Joe Biden will also deliver an update this afternoon on his administration’s efforts to get Americans vaccinated against coronavirus.

The speech comes one month before July 4, Biden’s deadline to get 70% of American adults at least partially vaccinated for US Independence Day.

The president is expected to announce a new partnership between the White House and the beer company Anheuser-Busch to encourage Americans to get their vaccines.

Anheuser-Busch
(@AnheuserBusch)

We’re teaming up with the @WhiteHouse in the fight against #COVID. And we’re doing it the best way we know how: bringing everyone together over a 🍺. Our biggest giveaway ever will be unlocked when we reach the vaccination goal by 7/4/21. #LetsGrabABeer https://t.co/lA8L3K2oZR pic.twitter.com/67epocqTqY

June 2, 2021

The CEO of Anheuser-Busch said in an announcement this morning that the company will “buy Americans 21+ a round of beer when we reach the White House goal”.

“We pride ourselves on stepping up both in times of need and in times of great celebration, and the past year has been no different,” said CEO Michel Doukeris. “As we look ahead to brighter days with renewed optimism, we are proud to work alongside the White House to make a meaningful impact for our country, our communities and our consumers.”

The “Let’s Grab A Beer” initiative is only the latest in a string of US efforts to incentivize vaccinations. Perhaps most notably, the state of Ohio has been distributing $1 million lottery prizes to a handful of new vaccine recipients.

Updated

Biden to meet with Republican senator as he looks to wrap up infrastructure talks

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

Joe Biden will meet this afternoon with Shelley Moore Capito, the senator who has been leading the Republican team negotiating with the White House over a potential infrastructure bill.

The meeting comes almost one week after Capito and her fellow Republicans introduced their latest counteroffer, which proposed spending $928 billion for infrastructure projects over the next eight years.



Joe Biden gestures toward Senator Shelley Moore Capito during an infrastructure meeting at the White House.

Joe Biden gestures toward Senator Shelley Moore Capito during an infrastructure meeting at the White House. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

That offer was still a far cry from what Biden has called for spending. Of the $928 billion in Republicans’ plan, only $257 billion is considered new money, while the rest was baselines spending, meaning the funds that were already going to be used on infrastructure projects over the next eight years because of existing policies.

In contrast, the president has proposed investing $1.7 trillion over baseline infrastructure spending, which is still less than the $2.25 trillion that he originally called for.

So Democrats and Republicans remain miles apart on infrastructure, and Biden has signaled that he is ready for the negotiations to come to a close.

“I told [Capito] we have to finish this really soon,” Biden said last Thursday. “We’re going to have to close this down soon.”

The blog will have more details on the meeting coming up, so stay tuned.

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Democrats’ domestic agenda faces setbacks by Republican obstructionism

democrats’-domestic-agenda-faces-setbacks-by-republican-obstructionism

Joe Biden’s far-reaching domestic agenda in the US is facing serious setbacks on a range of issues as the political quagmire of a tightly contested Senate is seeing Democratic ambitions sharply curtailed in the face of Republican obstruction.

On a number of key fronts such as pushing election reform and voting rights, efforts to curb gun control and to moving forwards on LGBTQ civil rights, there has been an effective push back by Republicans – and a handful of conservative Democrats – that is forcing Biden and the wider Democratic party on to the back foot.

The Senate, whom critics deride as an increasingly unrepresentative body that gives undue influence to smaller, less diverse Republican-run states, is scheduled to vote Tuesday on For the People Act, the voting rights bill that’s certain to be defeated having won no support from Republicans.

Republicans are expected to run down the clock – a controversial tactical rule known as a filibuster – on the package that requires lawmakers to reach a 60-vote threshold.

On Sunday, Ohio Republican senator Rob Portman shot down amendments proposed by West Virginia’s conservative Democrat Joe Manchin, whose rejection of the initial bill all-but scuttled the Democrats’ project. Portman described the planned legislation as a “federal takeover of our election system”.

“The bottom line is we should make it easy to vote in this country. We should also make it hard to cheat,” Portman said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Again, I appreciate [Manchin is] trying to find that middle ground, and, who knows, maybe something can be done.”

By forcing Republicans to carry out their filibuster and making their opposition clear and public to a law seen as defending the voting rights of communities of color. Democrats hope to embarrass the party. But – without destroying the filibuster, which Manchin also opposes – there is little chance of the bill passing.

Senate Democrats will also test calls for unity on LGBTQ civil rights, and another bill – The Equality Act – that is in search of Republican support. Schumer said last month the upper house is “considering” a vote on the bill but has yet to schedule it. Again, Manchin is the lone Democrat hold-out.

The proposed legislation would include sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected classes of the 1964 Civil Rights Act alongside bans on discrimination based on race, color, religion and national origin.

Wisconsin senator Tammy Baldwin, one of two openly gay senators in the 100-member chamber, has said that she is lobbying Republican colleagues but has achieved only “incremental progress”.

Baldwin has said she believes the Senate should “hold off” on a vote while “negotiations are productive” and progress is being made. The Senate is split 50-50 and only in Democratic control thanks to the tie-breaking vote of Vice-President Kamala Harris.

“There may be a time where there’s an impasse. I’m still trying to find 10 Republicans [to help pass the bill],” said Baldwin.

Republicans resistance to the legislation is focused on protecting the rights of religious institutions that condemn homosexuality and opposition transgender rights in sports. Yet it comes against a backdrop of broad public, business and judicial support on the issue.

Manchin, an anti-abortion Democrat , has said he is “not convinced that the Equality Act as written provides sufficient guidance to the local officials who will be responsible for implementing it”. But he has also said he’ll seek to “build broad bipartisan support and find a viable path forward for these critical protections”.

Nor are Democrats currently likely to find broader opportunities for political unity on infrastructure spending where large-scale Democratic proposals are running into Republican counter-offers of a fraction of the size.

Former Republican presidential adviser Karl Rove told This Week with George Stephanopoulos President Biden faces two paths on infrastructure and both are riddled with obstacles. “[It will be] a bipartisan deal small enough to get Republican support, but not big enough to keep Democrats united, or a go-it-alone and go-for-broke plan that progressives want, with a price tag as high as $6tn that’s likely too big to pass,” Rove said.

Similarly, pending gun control legislation may also be resistant to winning enough support to pass.

As it stands, two House-passed bills to expand background checks on gun buyers have all but stalled out in the Senate. But rather than push legislation that Republicans will reject, Democrats may instead push for a vote on increasing the number of online and gun show sales covered by FBI background checks – a significant retreat on the original proposals.

Senator Chris Murphy, the Democrats’ point person to win Republican support for gun control, said he’s still talking with Republican leaders about “some ideas that would involve the expansion of background checks without getting all the way to universal”.

Asked if a bill on gun show checks would be favored by Republicans, two senators involved in discussions, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, offered a cool take on that likelihood.

“We’ll see if it goes anywhere,” Graham told Politico.

Toomey, who is set to retire next year, said: “Honestly, it’s unclear at this point.”

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Florida Pride parade crash that killed one appears unintentional, officials say

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A member of a men’s chorus group unintentionally slammed into fellow chorists at the start of a Pride parade in South Florida, killing one member of the group and seriously injuring another, the group’s director said Sunday.

The statement clarified initial speculation that it was a hate crime directed at the gay community.

The Wilton Manors vice mayor, Paul Rolli, and the Fort Lauderdale mayor, Dean Trantalis, said the early investigation shows it was an accident. The driver was taken into custody, but it was unclear whether he had been charged.

“The early investigation now indicates it looks like it was a tragic accident, but nobody’s saying finally what it is,” Rolli told the Associated Press in a phone interview.

The driver and the victims were a part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus family, a small 25-member group of mostly older men.

“Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver is also a part of the Chorus family. To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community,” President Justin Knight said in a statement Sunday, calling it “an unfortunate accident”.

Fort Lauderdale police detective Ali Adamson told reporters Saturday that authorities were investigating all possibilities from the collision. The police department did not immediately respond to additional questions about the investigation Sunday.

Trantalis, who is Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay mayor, initially told reporters the act was deliberate, adding to the confusion Saturday night.

“It terrorized me and all around me … I feared it could be intentional based on what I saw from mere feet away,” he said in a Twitter statement Sunday. “As the facts continue to be pieced together, a picture is emerging of an accident in which a truck careened out of control.”

Wilton Manors is a tight-knit community near Fort Lauderdale with a vibrant downtown filled with cute shops, where people line up for Rosie’s famous hamburgers or to gossip and drink at Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar.

Photos and video from the scene showed Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz in tears while in a convertible at the parade.

In a statement Saturday night, Wasserman Schultz said she was safe but “deeply shaken and devastated that a life was lost”.

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Covid ‘remains a serious and deadly threat’ for unvaccinated people, Biden says – live

covid-‘remains-a-serious-and-deadly-threat’-for-unvaccinated-people,-biden-says-–-live

Democratic congressman Ted Lieu accused the US Conference of Catholic Bishops of hypocrisy for taking steps toward rebuking Catholic politicians who receive Communion and support abortion rights.

“Dear @USCCB: I’m Catholic and you are hypocrites,” Lieu said on Twitter.

Referring to Donald Trump’s attorney general, Lieu added, “You did not tell Bill Barr, a Catholic, not to take communion when he expanded killing human beings with the death penalty. You are being nakedly partisan and you should be ashamed. Another reason you are losing membership.”

Ted Lieu
(@tedlieu)

Dear @USCCB: I’m Catholic and you are hypocrites. You did not tell Bill Barr, a Catholic, not to take communion when he expanded killing human beings with the death penalty. You are being nakedly partisan and you should be ashamed. Another reason you are losing membership. https://t.co/kpIYRolnHD

June 18, 2021

Lieu also joined dozens of other Catholic Democrats in Congress in signing on to a “statement of principles” urging the USCCB not to continue with their efforts.

“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” the statement says.

“The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory.”

Joe Biden has arrived in his home state of Delaware, where he will be spending the weekend. The president did not take any questions from reporters as he boarded and later exited Marine One.

The Hill
(@thehill)

President Biden arrives in New Castle, Delaware pic.twitter.com/Dhx3wsqVWM

June 18, 2021

Jill Biden will travel to Jackson, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee, on Tuesday to visit coronavirus vaccination sites and encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.

The first lady, the vice-president and the second gentleman have recently been participating in a nationwide tour to areas with lower vaccination rates to encourage people to get their shots.

Michael LaRosa
(@MichaelLaRosa46)

🚨 HAPPENING TUESDAY: @FLOTUS ✈️ heads to Jackson, Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee pic.twitter.com/rsheXMmMLf

June 18, 2021

Speaking at the historically Black Clark Atlanta University in Georgia today, Kamala Harris urged Americans to reject misinformation about the vaccines and protect themselves against the virus.

“Let’s recognize that we have power in every moment of crisis, including this one,” Harris said.

David Smith

Mike Pence, the former US vice-president, has been heckled as a “traitor” for his refusal to overturn last year’s election result during a speech to a gathering of religious conservatives.

Pence, who is widely seen as laying the groundwork for a White House run in 2024, had entered an auditorium in Orlando, Florida to a standing ovation on Friday. But a small group began shouted abuse including “traitor!” as he began a 28-minute speech. The dissenters were quickly escorted out by police.

Earlier, in a corridor outside the ballroom, an attendee named Rick Hurley, wearing a red “Make America great again” cap, also vented his frustration over Pence’s role in certifying Donald Trump’s defeat on 6 January amid false claims of voter fraud.

“We need to start fighting!” Hurley shouted at anyone who would listen. “We need to stop being so damned nice. What the hell’s going on? Why is Pence coming today? Donald Trump has his pen in his back still.”

Before being taken aside by police, he also remarked: “I’m ready to fight. I’m going to boo him off stage. I’ll take the bullet. I’ll walk to the front of the stage and look him in the eye and and say, ‘What are you doing here?’

In an interview, Hurley said he had been at the US Capitol on 6 January. “I want to know why Pence is here today.” he said. “He stabbed Donald Trump in the back and took the coins like Judas.”

Dozens of Catholic Democrats in Congress signed on to a letter denouncing the efforts to rebuke lawmakers who receive Communion and support abortion rights.

“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” the letter says.

“The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory.”

Rosa DeLauro
(@rosadelauro)

As Catholic Democrats, we are committed to making real the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching: helping the oppressed, protecting the least among us & ensuring that all are given opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country. pic.twitter.com/nZHeUVfP2j

June 18, 2021

The lawmakers who signed the letter — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joaquin Castro and Ted Lieu — also made a point to list some of the Republican policies that they say contradict Catholic teachings.

“No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings, including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, limiting assistance for the hungry and food insecure, and denying rights and dignity to immigrants,” the letter says.

The lawmakers encouraged the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to not continue with its efforts, saying, “We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel over one issue.”

‘I don’t think that’s going to happen,’ Biden says of efforts to block him from receiving Communion

Joe Biden took a couple questions from reporters after concluding his prepared remarks on his administration’s coronavirus vaccination efforts.

One reporter asked the president for his response to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops taking steps toward rebuking Catholic politicians, such as Biden, who receive Communion and support abortion rights.

“That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Biden replied.

The AP has more details on the USCCB’s decision:


U.S. Catholic bishops overwhelmingly approved the drafting of a ‘teaching document’ that many of them hope will rebuke Catholic politicians, including [Biden], for receiving Communion despite their support for abortion rights.

The result of the vote — 168 in favor and 55 against — was announced Friday near the end of a three-day meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that was held virtually.

The bishops had cast their votes privately on Thursday after nearly three hours of impassioned debate.

Supporters of the measure said a strong rebuke of Biden was needed because of his recent actions protecting and expanding abortion access, while opponents warned that such action would portray the bishops as a partisan force during a time of bitter political divisions across the country.

Covid ‘remains a serious and deadly threat’ for unvaccinated people, Biden says

Joe Biden has just finished delivering remarks on reaching 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered since he took office in January.

The president praised the “whole of government response” that has allowed millions of Americans to get vaccinated. As of today, 65% of American adults have received at least one vaccine shot.

“Above all, we got here because of the American people,” Biden said.

ABC News
(@ABC)

Pres. Biden: “We’ve built equity into the heart of our vaccination program from day one.” https://t.co/xY8G8YiI04 pic.twitter.com/4HBMqXSsfN

June 18, 2021

The president also touted his administration’s efforts to get Americans of color vaccinated, while acknowledging more works needs to be done in that regard.

“We’ve built equity into the heart of our vaccination program from day one,” Biden said. “The more we close the racial gap in vaccination rates, the more lives we’ll save.”

While looking ahead to the country’s “summer of joy” as pandemic-related restrictions are relaxed, Biden emphasized that coronavirus “remains a serious and deadly threat” for unvaccinated Americans.

The president also warned that the delta variant of the virus could pose an even worse threat to unvaccinated people. Speaking directly to unvaccinated Americans, Biden said, “Act. Act now.”

Updated

As Joe Biden prepares to deliver an update on US vaccination efforts, Kamala Harris is in Atlanta, Georgia, to encourage more Americans to get their shots.

Speaking at the historically Black Clark Atlanta University this afternoon, Harris denounced misinformation about the coronavirus vaccines, saying, “Let’s arm ourselves with the truth.”

CBS News
(@CBSNews)

Harris speaks about the dramatic drops in COVID infections and deaths over the past five months: “Let’s recognize that we have power in every moment of crisis, including this one…When the American people come together, in the spirit of community, we can do anything. Anything.” pic.twitter.com/SIJlFEh57Z

June 18, 2021

The vice-president also noted that most of the Americans currently hospitalized with coronavirus are unvaccinated.

“Let’s recognize that we have power in every moment of crisis, including this one,” Harris said. “When the American people come together, in the spirit of community, we can do anything. Anything.”

As we prepare for Joe Biden’s remarks on the ongoing coronavirus vaccination efforts in the US, some reporters shared photos of a rainbow-lit hallway at the White House.

The colorful lights appear to be an homage to LGBTQ+ Pride month, which began on June 1.

darlene superville
(@dsupervilleap)

White House hallway lit up in rainbow colors for Pride Month. pic.twitter.com/lNFysOB31z

June 18, 2021

300 million vaccine shots administered since Biden took office, White House announces

More than 300 coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered since Joe Biden took office in January, the White House announced in a press release.

“Today, thanks to the President’s COVID-19 strategy, the virus is in retreat. 300 million shots have been administered in 150 days, COVID-19 cases and deaths have decreased by more than 90 percent, and the economy is experiencing the strongest rebound in decades,” the White House said.

“The results are clear: America is starting to look like America again, and entering a summer of joy and freedom.”



A man receives a shot at the FEMA-supported COVID-19 vaccination site at Valencia State College in Orlando.

A man receives a shot at the FEMA-supported COVID-19 vaccination site at Valencia State College in Orlando. Photograph: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

The White House noted that 65% of American adults have now received at least one vaccine dose, and 55% of adults in the US are fully vaccinated. Additionally, 15 states and DC have gotten more than 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated.

However, it is still unclear whether the US will hit Biden’s goal of having 70% of all American adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4, when America celebrates its Independence Day.

Biden is expected to deliver an update on his administration’s vaccination efforts at any moment, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has endorsed a Republican Senate candidate running against Lisa Murkowski, the Republican senator from Alaska who is up for reelection next year.

“Lisa Murkowski is bad for Alaska,” Trump said in a new statement. “Her vote to confirm Biden’s Interior Secretary was a vote to kill long sought for, and approved, ANWR, and Alaska jobs. Murkowski has got to go! Kelly Tshibaka is the candidate who can beat Murkowski—and she will.”

The endorsement is not a surprise, given that the former president has frequently criticized Murkowski since she voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial earlier this year.

Trump said of Tshibaka, “Kelly is a fighter who stands for Alaska values and America First. … Kelly is a powerful supporter of the Second Amendment and JOBS! I look forward to campaigning in Alaska for Kelly Tshibaka. She has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

According to CNN, Tshibaka has previously written in support of an “ex-gay” Christian organization that promoted conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Mike Pence heckled at conservative Christian conference

Victoria Bekiempis

Former Vice President Mike Pence was heckled during his speech at a conservative Christian conference on Friday, with some attendees shouting “traitor!” according to Forbes.

“It is great to be back with so many patriots, dedicated to faith and freedom and the road to the majority,” Pence remarked.

Pence, speaking at the Trump supporter-filled Faith & Freedom symposium, was cheered when he took the stage, NBC News journalist Ali Vitali said. Less than thirty seconds into his address, however, yelling emerged from the audience.

Andrew Solender
(@AndrewSolender)

Pence gets drowned out by hecklers at the Faith & Freedom Coalition summit, some of whom appear to be chanting “traitor!” pic.twitter.com/pAQxavsK3O

June 18, 2021

One woman who yelled “traitor!” was escorted out, Vitali reported.

Although Pence served Trump dutifully, some of the ex-president’s supporters turned on him. On 6 January, a mob of Trump’s supporters breached the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election.

Some insurrectionists shouted “hang Mike Pence,” shortly after Trump remarked that he would feel “very disappointed” if his then-deputy didn’t overturn the results, per Forbes.

Updated

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Republicans pushed back against Joe Manchin’s compromise proposal on a voting rights bill, which the Democratic senator laid out in a memo to colleagues this week. Manchin’s bill would include Republican demands like requiring voter ID and allowing voter purges, but Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said the proposal was still “an assault on the fundamental idea that states, not the federal government, should decide how to run their own elections”.
  • Joe Biden released a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in America. Biden signed a bill yesterday to make Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, a federal holiday. “Juneteenth is a day of profound weight and power,” Biden said in his proclamation. “On Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to the work of equity, equality, and justice.”
  • Kamala Harris is visiting Atlanta, Georgia, as part of her tour to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated against coronavirus. Visiting a pop-up vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church this afternoon, the vice-president thanked those present for getting their shots. “What you are doing truly is about leadership. These vaccines are safe and effective. It will save your life and lives of people that you love,” Harris said.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Joe Biden is nominating former congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small to a senior role in the department of agriculture, the White House just announced in a statement.

If confirmed by the Senate, Torres Small, who lost her reelection bid last year, would become undersecretary of rural development at the USDA.

“In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Representative Torres Small kept a rural hospital from closing its doors, improved constituent access to healthcare over the phone, and helped secure tens of millions of dollars for broadband in New Mexico through USDA’s ReConnect Program,” the White House said.

“Throughout her career, Torres Small has employed her experience organizing in vulnerable, rural communities to achieve lasting investments that combat persistent poverty.”

Torres Small served only one term in the House before being defeated in November by Republican Yvette Herrell, who won the race in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District by about 7 points.

Kamala Harris toured the pop-up vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and she thanked those who are getting their shots today.

“What you are doing truly is about leadership. These vaccines are safe and effective. It will save your life and lives of people that you love,” the vice-president said, per a press pool report. “We’re here to say thank you.”

Harris toured the vaccination site with several Democratic lawmakers, including Georgia senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

After Harris made her remarks to the newly vaccinated people at the site, Warnock joked, “The vice-president preached a good sermon today. Amen!”

Harris visits Georgia to encourage coronavirus vaccinations

Kamala Harris has arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, where she will continue her tour of southern states to encourage more Americans to get their coronavirus vaccines.



Kamala Harris exits Air Force Two, Friday, June 18, 2021, on arrival to Atlanta.

Kamala Harris exits Air Force Two, Friday, June 18, 2021, on arrival to Atlanta. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Harris is scheduled to tour a pop-up vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr once preached, and then deliver remarks at a vaccination mobilization event at Clark Atlanta University, a historically Black college.

The vice-president will also later participate in a conversation on voting rights with community leaders at the university.

As part of Joe Biden’s “month of action” to increase vaccination rates, Harris kicked off her southern tour with a trip to South Carolina earlier this week.

“Vaccination gives protection,” Harris said in Greenville. “This act, in a way, is a projection of love thy neighbor.”

Updated

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