President Biden on Thursday signed into law a bill creating a federal holiday to commemorate Juneteenth, the day marking the end of slavery in Texas. Because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, most federal employees will get this Friday off.
“Great nations don’t ignore the most painful moments. They don’t ignore those moments in the past. They embrace them,” Biden said in remarks in the East Room before a crowd that included lawmakers and 94-year-old Opal Lee, who campaigned to make the day a national holiday. The president, who spoke of efforts in some states to restrict voting rights, said the date doesn’t just celebrate the past but is a call for action.
Biden hailed the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act and referenced a colorful phrase he used to describe the landmark law at the time President Barack Obama signed it.
Prominent voting rights activist Stacey Abrams said she could “absolutely” support compromises floated by Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), the lone Senate Democrat who is not sponsoring a sweeping elections bill in the chamber.
St. Louis couple who pointed guns at protesters plead guilty, will give up firearms
A St. Louis couple who gained notoriety for waving guns at racial justice demonstrators last summer pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor charges and agreed to give up the guns they displayed during the confrontation.
Video and photographs of rifle-wielding Mark McCloskey and pistol-toting Patricia McCloskey in front of their mansion on June 28 captured the attention of the country, including President Donald Trump, who defended them. Trump and other Republicans considered the McCloskeys law-abiding homeowners protecting their property. Others saw the couple as overly aggressive toward demonstrators who were marching through the gated community to the home of then-Mayor Lyda Krewson amid nationwide protests after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis.
The couple, both personal injury attorneys, faced felony firearms charges after the display in front of their marble-faced palazzo home but ultimately pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
It’s probably inadvertent, but the national map of broadband need published by the White House on Thursday offers an extra layer of information beyond its detailed look at Internet access in the United States. Those areas that are in greatest need of broadband are displayed in red, accidentally elevating another quality most share: They largely voted for Donald Trump in 2020.
The Census Bureau collects data on technology adoption across the country, releasing assessments of how common computer ownership or Internet access is at the state, county and census tract level. If we compare the density of households without any type of computer (including smartphones) or broadband access to how a county voted in 2020, we see that Trump-voting counties are overrepresented in both groups.
Senate Republicans vowed Thursday to block voting legislation from advancing later this month, rejecting a key Democratic senator’s compromise offer that adopted some GOP ideas in a bid to break partisan gridlock on the issue.
The pledge from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) all but guarantees that Republicans will filibuster a sweeping voting bill that Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) is sending to the floor Tuesday.
Parts of the bill are meant to overrule provisions contained in a host of GOP-passed state laws that have placed restrictions on early voting, mail voting, ballot drop boxes and other policies that make it easier for voters to cast their ballots, in response to former president Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen 2020 presidential election.
Vice President Harris on Thursday also signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, a procedural step she carried out in her capacity as Senate president.
President Biden signed the bill into law afterward, creating a federal holiday to commemorate Juneteenth, the day enslaved African Americans were emancipated in Texas.
Harris signing the bill is a reminder of her barrier-shattering election as the nation’s first Black vice president, as well as its first woman and first Asian American in the role.
“Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names: Jubilee Day, Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day, and today, a national holiday,” Harris said to applause at a White House event to mark the bill’s passage.
Harris said it was important to acknowledge the history of Juneteenth as they established the newest national holiday. On June 19, 1865, the enslaved people of Galveston, Tex., learned that they were free — even though the Emancipation Proclamation had ended slavery in the Confederacy two and a half years earlier, Harris recounted.
“For more than two years, the enslaved people of Texas were kept in servitude,” Harris said. “They were intentionally kept from their freedom for more than two years. And then on that summer day, 156 years ago, the enslaved people of Texas learned the news. They learned that they were free and they claimed their freedom. It was indeed an important day.”
Harris urged people to “stop and take stock” of what Juneteenth meant so that Americans could learn from the past.
“So as we commemorate the history of Juneteenth, as we did just weeks ago with the history of the Tulsa Race Massacre, we must learn from our history and we must teach our children our history because it is part of our history as a nation,” Harris said. “It is part of American history.”
Tyler Pager contributed to this report.
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Biden signs bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday, says, ‘Great nations don’t ignore the most painful moments’
Calling it one of the greatest honors he will have as president, Biden signed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday and said America has to embrace its painful past to heal and grow.
“By making Juneteenth a federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we’ve come,” he said. “Great nations don’t ignore the most painful moments. They don’t ignore those moments in the past. They embrace them. Great nations don’t walk away.”
Biden said there is still work to be done as a nation to “deliver on the promise of equality,” adding that the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans was not the end of that work, but the beginning. Biden listed a number of policy objectives toward that goal, but added that they will never be achieved if the right to vote remains threatened.
“We see this assault from restrictive laws, threats of intimidation, voter purges and more,” he said. “An assault that offends the very democracy, our very democracy. We can’t rest until the promise of equality is fulfilled for every one of us in every corner of this nation. That, to me, is the meaning of Juneteenth.”
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Was Usher at the White House Juneteenth bill signing ceremony?
Prominent voting rights activist Stacey Abrams said Thursday that she could “absolutely” support compromises floated by Sen. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), the lone Senate Democrat who is not sponsoring a sweeping elections bill in the chamber.
A three-page memo circulated by Manchin’s office this week indicates the centrist’s willingness to support key provisions of the For the People Act, the marquee Democratic bill that the House passed in March — including provisions mandating at least two weeks of early voting and measures meant to eliminate partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts. But Manchin’s memo also sketches out several provisions that have historically been opposed by most Democrats, including backing an ID requirement for voters.
During an appearance on CNN, Abrams was asked whether she could support such a compromise.
“Absolutely,” she responded. “This is a first and important step to preserving our democracy.”
Abrams said it is a common misperception, fueled by Republicans, that Democrats outright oppose voter ID. Rather, she said, she and others object to restrictive provisions that are “designed to keep people out of the process.”
“No one has ever objected to having to prove who you are to vote,” she said. “What [Manchin] is proposing makes sense.”
Though Abrams, a former gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, has no formal say in the Senate process, her support of Manchin’s proposals could help sway liberal Democrats, whose overarching aim is to counter a bevy of Republican-passed laws that have rolled back ballot access in numerous states.
Senate Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have roundly rejected the voting rights bill and said Thursday that they oppose the Manchin compromise.
“I think every one of us looks for opportunities to work with Senator Manchin and we found those opportunities,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference. “I actually think that when Stacey Abrams immediately endorsed Senator Manchin’s proposal, it became the Stacey Abrams substitute, not the Joe Manchin substitute.”
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‘The Affordable Care Act is here to stay’: Obama celebrates Supreme Court decision
Former president Barack Obama on Thursday celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss the latest Republican challenge to the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare and considered the Democrat’s most significant domestic achievement during his eight years in office.
“Today, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. Again,” Obama said in a statement and a tweet. “This ruling reaffirms what we have long known to be true: the Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
“Now we need to build on the Affordable Care Act and continue to strengthen and expand it. That’s what @POTUS Biden has done through the American Rescue Plan, giving more families the peace of mind they deserve,” Obama added.
Obama and fellow Democrats have been fighting to protect the health-care legislation since it became law in March 2010. Republican lawmakers have long been deeply invested in undoing the law, and when Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, he vowed to abolish it once in office. But the GOP, which voted dozens of times to repeal or gut the law, never produced an alternative that could make it through Congress when the party held the House and Senate, last failing in 2017.
Two earlier Supreme Court challenges to the law also failed, in 2012 and 2015.
Obama noted that with the Supreme Court’s 7-to-2 decision on Wednesday, 31 million people get to keep their health care and Americans cannot be denied coverage because of a preexisting medical conditions.
Biden recently extended the special enrollment period for health-care policies through the government portal until Aug. 15, allowing more people in need of coverage to enroll. And he urged people to do so earlier on social media shortly after the court decision.
“A big win for the American people,” he tweeted.
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Florida Republican allegedly boasted Russian-Ukrainian ‘hit squad’ could ‘disappear’ rival
A Florida GOP congressional candidate was recently secretly recorded threatening Republican rival Anna Paulina Luna with “a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad” that would make her “disappear.”
That’s according to a recording obtained by Politico that comes from a conservative activist who says she taped her conversation with William Braddock over concerns about his “unhinged” dislike of his competitor.
In the recording,a man identified by Erin Olszewski as Braddock tells her she should not support Luna, one of several candidates vying for the seat in 2022 being vacated by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.). Braddock has declined to say if he is the man who was recorded.
The June 9 call turned dark when the man identified as Braddock said he could “call up my Russian and Ukrainian hit squad, and within 24 hours, they’re sending me pictures of her disappearing.”
Biden on Thursday hailed the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act and referenced a colorful phrase he used to describe the landmark law at the time President Barack Obama signed it more than a decade ago.
In a tweet, Biden said the decision was a “big win for the American people” and encouraged people to sign up for health-care plans.
“With millions of people relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, it remains, as ever, a BFD,” Biden added. “And it’s here to stay.”
At a White House signing ceremony for the legislation in 2010, Biden, then the vice president, turned to Obama and famously said, “This is a big f---ing deal.”
The remark was intended to be private but was picked up by the microphone on the podium.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain also embraced the term Thursday, tweeting after the Supreme Court ruling: “It’s still a BFD.”
Later in a more formal statement issued by the White House, Biden called the court decision “a victory for more than 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and millions more who were in immediate danger of losing their health care in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic.”
Analysis: Biden is ‘not confident’ he can change Putin. That’s good.
Biden declared Wednesday he was “not confident” of changing Putin’s ways and acknowledged that his cautious remarks about pulling U.S.-Russia relations up from their lowest point in years amounted to putting on “an optimistic front.”
“This is not about trust. This is about self-interest and verification of self-interest,” he told reporters.
Biden’s skeptical remarks, made in a solo news conference after their first summit and later on the tarmac near Air Force One, broke with decades of presidents predicting they would charm, cajole or cow their counterparts in Moscow.
The House voted Thursday to repeal a 19-year-old military authorization that Congress passed to give legal backing to the Iraq War with the support of Democrats, Republicans and the White House — an unprecedented coalition to end post-9/11 authorities to engage in hostilities that critics argue are outdated.
The 268-to-161 vote reflects growing bipartisan support for the repeal effort and tees up the legislation for the Senate, where Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) this week declared his support for the measure and his intention to bring it to the floor for a vote sometime this year.
“Today’s historic vote is a turning point,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.) said on the floor just before the vote. “I look forward to Congress no longer taking a back seat on some of the most consequential decisions our nation can make.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) celebrated Thursday the Supreme Court ruling to preserve the Affordable Care Act as an affirmation of Democrats’ efforts to keep insurance for those with preexisting conditions, and a rejection of GOP efforts to kill the legislation.
“Thanks to the tireless advocacy of Americans across the country and Democrats in Congress, the Affordable Care Act endures as a pillar of American health and economic security alongside Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,” she said in a statement.
Republican lawmakers and conservative media outlets have criticized the health-care legislation since its inception. President Donald Trump vowed to abolish the law, but despite dozens of attempts, congressional Republicans were never able to repeal or replace it.
Pelosi said liberals will never forget how hard their conservative opponents worked to dismantle one of the hallmark pieces of legislation from Barack Obama’s presidency.
“On Day One of our House Majority, Democrats acted decisively to throw the full legal weight of the House of Representatives into the fight against this GOP lawsuit,” she said. “We will never forget how Republican leaders embraced this monstrous suit to rip away millions of Americans’ health care in the middle of a deadly pandemic.”
Schumer similarly noted that since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, Democrats “have had to fight tooth and nail to preserve the law from partisan Republican attacks.”
Through countless legislative and judicial challenges, Schumer said, the health-care law prevailed.
“And now, we’re going to try to make it bigger and better — establish, once and for all, affordable health care as a basic right of every American citizen,” Schumer said. “What a day.”
Government says Friday will be a holiday for federal employees after Biden signs the Juneteenth Act