McConnell threatens to block Senate’s power-sharing agreement if it doesn’t preserve the filibuster
The evenly split Senate is having a hard time agreeing who’s in charge.Georgia’s two new Democratic senators were sworn in Wednesday, giving Republicans and Democrats 50 senators each, with Vice President Kamala Harris as a Democratic tiebreaker. The two parties are now working out a power-sharing agreement, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) commitment to the filibuster is standing in the way.McConnell on Thursday formally acknowledged Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the chamber’s new majority leader. But as he has been for days, McConnell again implored Democrats to preserve the filibuster that lets a senator extend debate and block a timely vote on a bill if there aren’t 60 votes to stop it. Democrats “have no plans to gut the filibuster further, but argue it would be a mistake to take one of their tools off the table just as they’re about to govern,” Politico reports; More progressive senators do want to remove the option completely.If his filibuster demands aren’t met, McConnell has threatened to block the Senate power-sharing agreement that would put Democrats in charge of the body’s committees. But Democrats already seem confident in their newfound power, with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) telling Politico that “Chuck Schumer is the majority leader and he should be treated like majority leader.” Giving in to McConnell “would be exactly the wrong way to begin,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) echoed.Other Democrats shared their resistance to McConnell’s demands in tweets.> McConnell is threatening to filibuster the Organizing Resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee Chair positions. It’s an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels.>> — Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 21, 2021> So after Mitch McConnell changed the Senate rules at a blistering pace during his 6 years in charge, he is threatening to filibuster the Senate’s organizing resolution unless the Democratic majority agrees to never change the rules again.>> Huh.>> — Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 21, 2021More stories from theweek.com Biden’s next executive order will let people stay on unemployment if they quit an unsafe job 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump’s White House exit McConnell is already moving to strangle the Biden presidency
Republican congresswoman under fire for ‘spreading Florida school shooting conspiracy theories’
A Republican congresswoman is facing calls to resign over reports that she helped to spread falsehoods about the Parkland school shooting. Marjorie Taylor Greene reportedly agreed with a conspiracy theory about the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed. Facebook screenshots showed a discussion about why a police officer had not rushed into the building, and someone claimed that the mass shooting was a “false flag planned shooting.” Greene replied: “Exactly!” The social media giant later removed the posts after they were reported to them. Cameron Kasky, a former Parkland pupil who co-founded the group Never Again MSD, said: “She should resign. She can apologise. I don’t think anybody will accept it.” The congresswoman was elected in Georgia in November, backed Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud, and has previously expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory. Fred Guttenberg, who’s 14-year-old daughter Jaime died in the Parkland shooting, said: “Your feelings on gun laws are irrelevant to your claim that Parkland never happened. You are a fraud who must resign. Be prepared to meet me directly in person to explain your conspiracy theory, and soon.” The comments by the politician were first reported by Media Matters for America. In a statement Ms Greene accused Media Matters for America of being “communists’ and “fake news”. Meanwhile, US Capitol Police were investigating an incident in which a Republican congressman was found carrying a concealed gun while trying to enter the floor of the House of Representatives. Andy Harris, a staunch gun-rights advocate, set off a metal detector going through security on his way to the House floor . Metal detectors were installed outside the chamber to beef up security in the aftermath of the Capitol riots on Jan 6.
UN agency: Libyan navy intercepts over 80 EU-bound migrants
Libya’s coast guard intercepted on Friday more than 80 Europe-bound migrants in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the North African country, the U.N. migration agency said. The migrants were returned to Libyan soil, said the International Organization for Migration. “So far this year, some 300 people, including women and children, were returned to the country and ended up in detention,” said the IOM.
EU, Turkey cautiously eye improved ties after tough 2020
The European Union and Turkey pressed each other on Thursday to take concrete steps to improve relations long strained by disagreements over energy, migration and Ankara’s human rights record. Turkey, which remains an official candidate for EU membership despite the tensions, is facing the threat of EU economic sanctions over a hydrocarbons dispute with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean, but the mood music between Brussels and Ankara has improved since the new year.
Saudi TV says missile or drone intercepted over Riyadh
Saudi Arabia said Saturday it intercepted an apparent missile or drone attack over its capital, Riyadh, amid the kingdom’s yearslong war against neighboring Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Saudi state TV quoted authorities in the kingdom acknowledging the interception. The Houthis did not immediately acknowledge launching a missile or a drone toward Riyadh.
Iran, pressured by blackouts and pollution, targets Bitcoin
Iran’s capital and major cities plunged into darkness in recent weeks as rolling outages left millions without electricity for hours. With toxic smog blanketing Tehran skies and the country buckling under the pandemic and other mounting crises, social media has been rife with speculation. Within days, as frustration spread among residents, the government launched a wide-ranging crackdown on Bitcoin processing centers, which require immense amounts of electricity to power their specialized computers and to keep them cool — a burden on Iran’s power grid.
Trudeau stresses “disappointment” with Keystone XL in first official call with Biden
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday expressed his “disappointment” with President Biden’s executive order to rescind permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, in a readout of the president’s first official call with a foreign leader.Why it matters: The prime minister has long backed the pipeline meant to carry crude oil from Alberta to Nebraska. Biden, however, campaigned on the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.What he’s saying: In a news conference earlier Friday, Trudeau said: “We have so much alignment — not just me and President Biden, but Canadians and President Biden.” He added, “I’m very much looking forward to working with President Biden,” per the New York Times. * On the call, however, Trudeau “raised Canada’s disappointment with the United States’ decision on the Keystone XL pipeline,” according to the readout. * “The Prime Minister underscored the important economic and energy security benefits of our bilateral energy relationship as well as his support for energy workers.”The big picture: The pipeline project originally came with an $8 billion price tag and was expected to carry roughly 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Canada through Nebraska, per The Washington Post. * Though President Obama rejected the pipeline, President Trump gave it the green light once in office. * Lawsuits slowed construction on the project throughout Trump’s administration. * Two Native American communities sued the government over the pipeline last year, charging the government did not consult with tribes on the pipeline’s proposed path, which crosses tribal lands. * Its permit repeal is one of several “critical first steps to address the climate crisis, create good union jobs, and advance environmental justice, while reversing the previous administration’s harmful policies,” according to the Biden administration.In their Friday call, the two leaders discussed collaborating on COVID vaccines and the flow of critical medical supplies, efforts to work with Indigenous people and plans to address climate change through cross-border clean electricity transmission and net-zero emissions. * “Both leaders have made combating climate change, defending human rights and strengthening international institutions central to their platforms,” the Times writes. * “The leaders reiterated their firm commitment to multilateral institutions and alliance,” per the readout.Flashback: In 2017, Trudeau touted the Keystone XL pipeline, saying: “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there. The resource will be developed. Our job is to ensure that this is done responsibly, safely and sustainably.” Go deeper: Biden talks climate in calls with foreign leadersBe smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
Filibuster face-off: Schumer, McConnell at loggerheads over U.S. Senate power sharing
A standoff between new U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, and the man he replaced, Republican Mitch McConnell, over a core rule of Senate operations has kept the two from reaching a deal on how to manage the 50-50 chamber. Schumer is resisting McConnell’s demand for a promise to protect the long-standing Senate rule requiring a supermajority of 60 votes to advance most legislation, known as the legislative filibuster. Their argument is holding up the basic organization and work of the Senate as it begins the new year with 50 senators from each party.
Diplomats contact Canadian held for over 2 years in China
Canada said its officials have met online with former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who has been held in China for more than two years in a case related to an executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Canada’s Foreign Ministry said officials led by Ambassador Dominic Barton were given “on-site virtual consular access” to Kovrig on Thursday. Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor have been confined since Dec. 10, 2018, just days after Canada detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant.