Questioning witnesses in the first impeachment hearing staged by House Republicans, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez prompted each to say they were not presenting “firsthand witness accounts” of crimes committed by Joe Biden.The New York Democrat also accused Republicans of fabricating supposed evidence of corruption involving the president and his surviving son, Hunter Biden.Republicans on the House oversight committee called three witnesses, Democrats one.Ocasio-Cortez questioned the Republican witnesses first.Turning to Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and well-known conservative commentator, she said: “In your testimony today, are you presenting any firsthand witness account of crimes committed by the president of the United States?”“No, I’m not,” said Turley, who had already made headlines by saying he did “not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment”.Ocasio-Cortez asked the same question of Eileen O’Connor, a former assistant attorney general in the justice department tax division who worked for Donald Trump’s transition team and is a member of the rightwing Federalist Society.“No, I’m not,” said O’Connor, who was also called out during the hearing for omitting the word “Hunter” when referring to the title of a piece she wrote for the Wall Street Journal in July, namely: “You’d go to prison for what Hunter Biden did.”Ocasio-Cortez asked the same question of Bruce Dubinsky, a forensic accountant:“As the third and final Republican witness in this hearing, have you in your testimony presented any firsthand witness account of crimes committed by the president of the United States?”“I have not,” he said.Ocasio-Cortez said she would “assume the same” of the sole witness called by Democrats, Michael J Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina law professor.He said: “I’m not a fact witness. Correct.”Widely known as AOC, the congresswoman has a passionate following among progressives and an equally passionate legion of haters among conservatives. Her questioning duly made a splash on social media.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionTurning to an item of actual evidence presented by Republicans, she accused them of making it up.Referring to Byron Donalds, she said: “Earlier today, one of our colleagues, the gentleman from Florida, presented up on the screen something that … appeared to be a screenshot of a text message containing or insinuating an explosive allegation.“That screenshot of what appeared to be a text message was a fabricated image.”Donalds showed text messages he claimed indicated that Hunter Biden engaged in fraud and money laundering, to the benefit of his father.“I don’t know where it came from,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I don’t know if it was the staff of the committee, but it was not the actual direct screenshot from that phone.”She added: “What was brought out from that fabricated image excluded critical context that changed the underlying meaning and allegation that was presented up on that screen, by this committee and by members of this committee.”Ocasio-Cortez also noted that only the witnesses in the hearing were under oath and therefore bound to tell the truth. In contrast, members of Congress could say whatever they wanted. More
Texas Democrat Jasmine Crockett launched a blistering attack on the impeachment hearings against President Joe Biden on Thursday, asking key Democrat witness Michael J Gerhardt how many times GOP members of the inquiry said ‘if’ when probing allegations against the president. Crockett said: ‘Honestly, if they would continue to say “if” or “Hunter” and we were playing a drinking game, I would be drunk by now.’
During a hearing of the House Oversight Committee, Crockett also accused GOP members of ignoring evidence against Donald Trump while continuing ‘disturbing’ efforts to impeach Biden. More
A government shutdown appeared all but inevitable as the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, dug in on Thursday, vowing he will not take up Senate legislation designed to keep the federal government fully running despite House Republicans’ struggle to unite around an alternative.Congress is at an impasse just days before a disruptive federal shutdown that would halt paychecks for many of the federal government’s roughly 2 million employees, as well as 2 million active-duty military troops and reservists, furlough many of those workers and curtail government services.But the House and Senate are pursuing different paths to avert those consequences, even though time is running out before government funding expires after midnight on Saturday.The Senate is working toward passage of a bipartisan measure that would fund the government until 17 November as longer-term negotiations continue, while also providing $6bn for Ukraine and $6bn for US disaster relief.The House, meanwhile, has teed up votes on four of the dozen annual spending bills that fund various agencies in hopes that would cajole enough Republicans to support a House-crafted continuing resolution that temporarily funds the government and boosts security at the US border with Mexico. It’s a long shot, but McCarthy predicted a deal.“Put your money on me; we’re going to get this done,” he said in a CNBC interview. “I think we can work through the weekend. I think we can figure this out.”Lawmakers were already weary from days of late-night negotiating. The strain was evident at McCarthy’s closed-door meeting with Republicans on Thursday morning, which was marked by a tense exchange between the speaker and Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, according to those in the room.Gaetz, who has taunted McCarthy for weeks with threats to oust him from his post, confronted the speaker about conservative online influencers being paid to post negative things about him. McCarthy shot back that he wouldn’t waste his time on something like that, Gaetz told reporters as he exited the meeting.McCarthy’s allies left the meeting fuming about Gaetz’s tactics.With his majority splintering, McCarthy is scrambling to come up with a plan for preventing a shutdown and win Republican support. The speaker told Republicans he would reveal a Republican stopgap plan, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, on Friday, according to those in the room, while also trying to force Senate Democrats into giving some concessions.But with time running out, many GOP lawmakers were withholding support for a temporary measure until they had a chance to see it. Others are considering joining Democrats, without McCarthy’s support, to bring forward a bill that would prevent a shutdown.With his ability to align his conference in doubt, McCarthy has little standing to negotiate with Senate Democrats. He has also attempted to draw Joe Biden into negotiations, but the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said Congress and the White House had already worked out top-line spending levels for next year with an agreement this summer that allowed the government to continue borrowing to pay its bills.McCarthy was deviating from that deal and courting a shutdown by catering to Republicans who said it didn’t do enough to cut spending, he said.“By focusing on the views of the radical few instead of the many, speaker McCarthy has made a shutdown far more likely,” Schumer said.Biden also sought to apply more pressure on McCarthy, urging him to compromise with Democrats even though that could threaten his job.“I think that the speaker is making a choice between his speakership and American interests,” Biden said.The White House, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, notified staff on Thursday to prepare for a shutdown, according to emails obtained by the Associated Press. Employees who are furloughed would have four hours on Monday to prepare their offices for the shutdown. More
Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused Republicans of fabricating evidence in the first hearing of Biden’s impeachment inquiry on Thursday. Ocasio-Cortez said: ‘Earlier today, one of our colleagues, the gentleman from Florida, presented up on the screen something that looked, appeared, to be a screenshot of a text message containing or insinuating an explosive allegation. That screenshot of what appeared to be a text message was a fabricated image’
In a blistering attack on the GOP-led inquiry Ocasio-Cortez continued: ‘This is an embarrassment. An embarrassment to the time and people of this country’ More
It was John Fetterman, the Democratic senator for Pennsylvania with a penchant for “unapologetically wearing shorts” while on duty in the Senate, who seems to have broken the system. Last week, when the majority leader, Chuck Schumer, announced a relaxing of the dress code on the Senate floor, he didn’t mention Fetterman. But nobody was fooled. For weeks, Fetterman has been attracting attention in his baggy shorts, shapeless hoodie and massive, scruffy trainers – and now look what he’s done. Stepping up to provide journalists with the mandatory quote on these sorts of occasions, Republican senator Roger Marshall observed gravely that it was “a sad day in the Senate”.When questioned on the matter, Fetterman remarked that the clothes, which he started wearing after a spell in hospital for depression earlier this year, made him more comfortable. There’s probably a pandemic hangover at work here, too – and possibly, given the state of the world, some fiddling-while-Rome-burns displacement. Traditionally, the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms would pull up male senators for appearing tieless on the floor, and out of respect they would vote from the doorways. The understanding is that, from now on, they may be emboldened to take their place alongside colleagues in something more casual.All of which falls into the familiar and pleasing category of the slipping-standards-it-wasn’t-like-that-in-my-day outrage, other iterations of which include people wearing jeans to the theatre, going hatless at weddings and running multibillion-dollar companies from inside an oversized hoodie. If there is a single, pivotal influence at work it is the last one: the uniform of the tech industry, where suits have come to be associated with small-minded, non-disruptive thinking, while dorm room sweats and sneakers, or at the very most jeans and a white shirt, signify the visionary.I find it hard to pick a side in this debate, operating as I am from the disadvantage of working in an industry where formal attire means finding a T-shirt that doesn’t have a stain down the front. And I’ve shifted positions over the years. For example, having once been strongly in favour of school uniforms, the experience of having kids in a US school – one of them sits all day wearing a baseball cap backwards and the other, occasionally, shows up in pyjama bottoms – has conditioned me out of it. British uniform requirements that legislate down to the socks and hair accessories look prissy and pointless in comparison.I also find myself thinking that definitions of what constitutes formal attire need to change. I have to go to dinner on a fancy ship soon and the dress code stipulates no jeans or sneakers. I’m willing to argue the toss on jeans. But sneakers, come on. This overlooks the sheer breadth of the trainer spectrum, which ranges from Fetterman’s sloppy workout shoes to Virgil Abloh’s Off-White for Nike sneakers that are more expensive and greater works of art, if you want to look at it that way, than what would be considered the more appropriate attire of (in my opinion) dumbass Manolos and their brethren.Anyway, what a time to be alive in the Senate. Colleagues of Fetterman’s fell into line for or against him largely along partisan lines, although that division wasn’t entirely uniform. It was noted that Josh Hawley, Republican senator for Missouri, rocked up in jeans, boots and no tie last week, an outfit he says he normally wears at the start of the week when he flies in from his home state and was reportedly very happy not to have to change out of.Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine, meanwhile, joked: “I plan to wear a bikini tomorrow to the Senate floor,” prompting various unsisterly thoughts that had to be immediately quashed. As one of a minority of women in the Senate, there’s a decent feminist point Collins might have made about all this, although, of course, she didn’t; no one looks to Collins – who voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the supreme court because he gave her his word he wouldn’t challenge Roe v Wade – to defend the interests of women. The fact remains: had either she or one of her 24 female colleagues pulled a number like Fetterman and turned up, as he himself characterised it, looking like “a slob”, I have a hunch the response might not have been so indulgent and jovial.
Emma Brockes is a Guardian columnist More
The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said on Wednesday he was “disturbed” by the fraud indictment against his fellow Democratic Senator, Bob Menendez, and that the New Jersey lawmaker has fallen “way short” of senatorial standards.Menendez pleaded not guilty earlier in the day to charges of taking bribes from three New Jersey businessmen, as calls for his resignation from his fellow Democrats escalated.He was released on a $100,000 bond and then left federal court in New York without speaking to reporters.Federal prosecutors in Manhattan last week accused Menendez, 69, and his wife, Nadine, of accepting gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for the senator using his influence to aid Egypt’s government and interfere with law enforcement investigations of the businessmen.Schumer was the most senior Democrat yet to comment on Menendez’s alleged crimes, though he stopped short of calling for the senator to resign, as almost 30 of his colleagues in the congressional upper chamber have done.However, Schumer, from New York, said: “Tomorrow, he will address the Democratic caucus and we’ll see what happens after that.”The majority leader said he was disappointed and disturbed by the indictment.“We all know that … for senators, there’s a much, much higher standard. And clearly when you read the indictment, Senator Menendez fell way, way below that standard,” Schumer said.Menendez entered the plea at a hearing before the US magistrate judge Ona Wang in Manhattan. Wang said Menendez could be released on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond.The Democratic senator will be required to surrender his personal passport, but may retain his official passport and travel abroad on official business. His wife, Nadine Menendez, 56, and businessmen Jose Uribe, 56, and Fred Daibes, 66, also pleaded not guilty. A third businessman, Wael Hana, 40, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.Menendez, one of two senators representing New Jersey, stepped down from his role as chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, as required under his party’s rules.But on Monday he said he would stay in the Senate and fight the charges. More than half of all US Democratic senators – including Cory Booker, the junior senator from New Jersey and historically a close ally – have called on Menendez, a powerful voice on foreign policy who has at times bucked his own party, to resign since the charges were announced on Friday.Dick Durbin of Illinois, the number two Democrat in the Senate, on Wednesday joined his colleagues in urging Menendez to step down, saying on X, formerly known as Twitter, that he believed he could no longer serve.Democrats narrowly control the Senate with 51 seats, including three independents who normally vote with them, to the Republicans’ 49. The Democratic New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy, who would appoint a temporary replacement should Menendez step aside, has also called for him to resign.The indictment contained images of gold bars and cash investigators seized from Menendez’s home. Prosecutors say Hana arranged meetings between Menendez and Egyptian officials – who pressed him to sign off on military aid – and in return put his wife on the payroll of a company he controlled.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionThe investigation marks the third time Menendez has been under investigation by federal prosecutors. He has never been convicted.Pete Aguilar, chair of the House Democratic caucus, called for Menendez to resign during a news conference with House Democratic leadership.Menendez has had “an incredible track record” of service to the people of New Jersey and of having “lifted up issues that the Latino community cares about”, Aguilar said.“It doesn’t bring me or any of us joy to say that he should resign. But he should for the betterment of the Democratic party. For the people of New Jersey. It’s better that he fights this trial outside of the halls of Congress.”Almost 30 Democratic senators had called on Menendez to resign by mid-morning on Wednesday.On Wednesday, the judge ordered him not to have contact outside of the presence of lawyers with his co-defendants except for his wife.He also cannot have contact outside of the presence of lawyers with members of his Senate staff, foreign relations committee staff or political advisers who have personal knowledge about the facts of the case, though it is unclear how those restrictions would impact his work.Reuters and the Associated Press contributed reporting More
From 13m agoThe Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, reached an agreement on a stopgap spending plan that would keep the government open past Saturday.A bipartisan Senate draft measure would fund the government through 17 November and include around $6bn in new aid to Ukraine and roughly $6bn in disaster funding, Reuters reported.Speaking earlier today, Schumer said:
We will continue to fund the government at present levels while maintaining our commitment to Ukraine’s security and humanitarian needs, while also ensuring those impacted by natural disasters across the country begin to get the resources they need.
The 79-page stopgap spending bill, unveiled by the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, would not include any border security measures, a major sticking point for House Republicans, Reuters reported.The short-term bill would avert a government shutdown on Sunday while also providing billions in disaster relief and aid to Ukraine.The bill includes $4.5bn from an operations and maintenance fund for the defense department “to remain available until Sept. 30, 2024 to respond to the situation in Ukraine,” according to the measure’s text.The bill also includes another $1.65bn in state department funding for additional assistance to Ukraine that would be available until 30 September 2025.The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, reached an agreement on a stopgap spending plan that would keep the government open past Saturday.A bipartisan Senate draft measure would fund the government through 17 November and include around $6bn in new aid to Ukraine and roughly $6bn in disaster funding, Reuters reported.Speaking earlier today, Schumer said:
We will continue to fund the government at present levels while maintaining our commitment to Ukraine’s security and humanitarian needs, while also ensuring those impacted by natural disasters across the country begin to get the resources they need.
Joe Biden’s dog, Commander, bit another Secret Service agent at the White House on Monday.In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson, Anthony Guglielmi, said:
Yesterday around 8pm, a Secret Service Uniformed Division police officer came in contact with a First Family pet and was bitten. The officer was treated by medical personnel on complex.
Commander has been involved in at least 11 biting incidents at the White House and at the Biden family home in Delaware. One such incident in November 2022 left an officer hospitalized after being bitten on the arms and thighs.Another of the president’s dogs, Major, was removed from the White House and relocated to Delaware following several reported biting incidents.Ruling in a civil lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general Letitia James, Judge Arthur Engoron ordered that some of Donald Trump’s business licenses be rescinded as punishment after finding the former president committed fraud by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth.The judge also said he would continue to have an independent monitor oversee the Trump Organization’s operations.James sued Trump and his adult sons last year, alleging widespread fraud connected to the Trump Organization and seeking $250m and professional sanctions. She has said Trump inflated his net worth by as much as $2.23bn, and by one measure as much as $3.6bn, on annual financial statements given to banks and insurers.Assets whose values were inflated included Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, his penthouse apartment in Manhattan’s Trump Tower, and various office buildings and golf courses, she said.In his ruling, Judge Engoron said James had established liability for false valuations of several properties, Mar-a-Lago and the penthouse. He wrote:
In defendants’ world: rent regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party’s lies. That is a is a fantasy world, not the real world.
Judge Arthur F Engoron’s ruling marks a major victory for New York attorney general Letitia James’s civil case against Donald Trump.In the civil fraud suit, James is suing Trump, his adult sons, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, and the Trump Organization for $250m.Today’s ruling, in a phase of the case known as summary judgment, resolves the key claim in James’s lawsuit, but six others remain.Trump has repeatedly sought to delay or throw out the case, and has repeatedly been rejected. He has also sued the judge, with an appeals court expected to rule this week on his lawsuit.A New York state judge has granted partial summary judgment to the New York attorney general, Letitia James, in the civil case against Donald Trump.Judge Arthur F Engoron found that Trump committed fraud for years while building his real estate empire, and that the former president and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing, AP reports:
Beyond mere bragging about his riches, Trump, his company and key executives repeatedly lied about them on his annual financial statements, reaping rewards such as favorable loan terms and lower insurance premiums, Engoron found.
Those tactics crossed a line and violated the law, the judge said in his ruling on Tuesday.The decision by Judge Engoron precedes a trial that is scheduled to begin on Monday. James, a Democrat, sued Trump and his adult sons last year, alleging widespread fraud connected to the Trump Organization and seeking $250m and professional sanctions.Joe Biden has warned that Americans could be “forced to pay the price” because House Republicans “refuse to stand up to the extremists in their party”.As the House standoff stretches on, the White House has accused Republicans of playing politics at the expense of the American people.Biden tweeted:For an idea of the state of play in the House, consider what Republican speaker Kevin McCarthy said to CNN when asked how he would pass a short-term funding measure through the chamber, despite opposition from his own party.McCarthy has not said if he will put the bill expected to pass the Senate today up for a vote in the House, but if he does, it’s possible it won’t win enough votes from Republicans to pass, assuming Democrats also vote against it.Asked to comment on how he’d get around this opposition, McCarthy deflected, and accused Republican detractors of, bizarrely, aligning themselves with Joe Biden. Here’s more from CNN, on why he said that:In a marked contrast to the rancor and dysfunction gripping the House, the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, also endorsed the short-term government funding bill up for a vote today, Politico reports:McConnell’s comments are yet another positive sign it’ll pass the chamber, and head to an uncertain fate in the House.The Senate’s Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, says he expects a short-term government funding measure to pass his chamber with bipartisan support, Politico reports:The question is: what reception will it get in the House? If speaker Kevin McCarthy puts the bill up for a vote, it may attract enough Democratic votes to offset any defections from rightwing Republicans. But those insurgents have made clear that any collaboration between McCarthy and Democrats will result in them holding a vote to remove him as speaker.The House and Senate will in a few hours hold votes that will be crucial to the broader effort to stop the government from shutting down at the end of the week.The federal fiscal year ends on 30 September, after which many federal agencies will have exhausted their funding and have to curtail services or shut down entirely until Congress reauthorizes their spending. But lawmakers have failed to pass bills authorizing the government’s spending into October due to a range of disagreements between them, with the most pronounced split being between House Republicans who back speaker Kevin McCarthy and a small group of rightwing insurgents who have blocked the chamber from considering a measure to fund the government for a short period beyond the end of the month.At 5.30pm, the Democratic-dominated Senate will vote on a bill that extends funding for a short period of time, but lacks any new money for Ukraine or disaster relief that Joe Biden’s allies have requested. Those exclusions are seen as a bid to win support in the Republican-led House.The House is meanwhile taking procedural votes on four long-term spending bills. If the votes succeed, it could be a sign that McCarthy has won over some of his detractors – but that alone won’t be enough to keep the government open.As GOP House speaker Kevin McCarthy mulls a meeting with Joe Biden to resolve the possibility that the federal government will shut down at the end of this week, here’s the Guardian’s Joan E Greve with the latest on the chaotic negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in both chambers of Congress on preventing it:With just five days left to avert a federal shutdown, the House and the Senate return on Tuesday to resume their tense budget negotiations in the hope of cobbling together a last-minute agreement to keep the government open.The House will take action on four appropriations bills, which would address longer-term government funding needs but would not specifically help avoid a shutdown on 1 October.The four bills include further funding cuts demanded by the hard-right House members who have refused to back a stopgap spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, that would prevent a shutdown.The House is expected to take a procedural vote on those four bills on Tuesday. If that vote is successful, the House Republican speaker, Kevin McCarthy, may attempt to use the victory as leverage with the hard-right members of his conference to convince them to back a continuing resolution.But it remains unclear whether those four appropriations bills can win enough support to clear the procedural vote, given that one of the holdout Republicans, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, has said she will not back the spending package because it includes funding for Ukraine.Donald Trump has launched a lengthy and largely baseless attack on wind turbines for causing large numbers of whales to die, claiming that “windmills” are making the cetaceans “crazy” and “a little batty”.Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, used a rally in South Carolina to assert that while there was only a small chance of killing a whale by hitting it with a boat, “their windmills are causing whales to die in numbers never seen before. No one does anything about that.”“They are washing up ashore,” said Trump, the twice-impeached former US president and gameshow host who is facing multiple criminal indictments.
You wouldn’t see that once a year – now they are coming up on a weekly basis. The windmills are driving them crazy. They are driving the whales, I think, a little batty.
Trump has a history of making false or exaggerated claims about renewable energy, previously asserting that the noise from wind turbines can cause cancer, and that the structures “kill all the birds”. In that case, experts say there is no proven link to ill health from wind turbines, and that there are far greater causes of avian deaths, such as cats or fossil fuel infrastructure. There is also little to support Trump’s foray into whale science.The House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, said it would be “very important” to meet with Joe Biden to avert a government shutdown, and suggested the president could solve the crisis at the southern border unilaterally.Asked why he was not willing to strike a deal with congressional Democrats on a short-term funding bill to keep the government open, NBC reports that McCarthy replied:
Why don’t we just cut a deal with the president?
The president, all he has to do … it’s only actions that he has to take. He can do it like that. He changed all the policies on the border. He can change those. We can keep government open and finish out the work that we have done.
Asked if he was requesting a meeting with Biden, McCarthy said:
I think it would be very important to have a meeting with the president to solve that issue.
Here’s a clip of Joe Biden’s remarks as he joined striking United Auto Workers members (UAW) outside a plant in Michigan.Addressing the picketing workers, the president said they had made a lot of sacrifices when their companies were in trouble. He added:
Now they’re doing incredibly well. And guess what? You should be doing incredibly well, too.
Asked if the UAW should get a 40% increase, Biden said yes.Joe Biden became the first sitting US president in modern memory to visit a union picket line, traveling to Van Buren township, Michigan, to address United Auto Workers members who have walked off the job at the big three automakers. The president argued that the workers deserve higher wages, and appeared alongside the union’s leader, Shawn Fain – who has yet to endorse Biden’s re-election bid. Back in Washington DC, Congress is as troubled as ever. The leaders of the House and Senate are trying to avoid a government shutdown, but there’s no telling if their plans will work. Meanwhile, more and more Democratic senators say Bob Menendez should resign his seat after being indicted on corruption charges, including his fellow Jerseyman, Cory Booker.Here’s what else is going on:Here was the scene in Van Buren township, Michigan, as Joe Biden visited striking United Auto Workers members, in the first visit to a picket line by a US president: More
With just five days left to avert a federal shutdown, the House and the Senate return on Tuesday to resume their tense budget negotiations in the hope of cobbling together a last-minute agreement to keep the government open.The House will take action on four appropriations bills, which would address longer-term government funding needs but would not specifically help avoid a shutdown on 1 October.The four bills include further funding cuts demanded by the hard-right House members who have refused to back a stopgap spending bill, known as a continuing resolution, that would prevent a shutdown. Because of House Republicans’ narrow majority, McCarthy can only afford to lose a handful of votes within the conference, and hard-right members have capitalized on that dynamic to push for policy concessions in the spending negotiations.The House is expected to take a procedural vote on those four bills on Tuesday. If that vote is successful, the House Republican speaker, Kevin McCarthy, will likely attempt to use the victory as leverage with the hard-right members of his conference to convince them to back a continuing resolution.But it remains unclear whether those four appropriations bills can win enough support to clear the procedural vote, given that one of the holdout Republicans, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, has said she will not back the spending package because it includes funding for Ukraine.Speaking to reporters on Tuesday on Capitol Hill, McCarthy was asked whether it would be possible to take up a continuing resolution if the appropriations bills fail to advance.“I never give up,” McCarthy said. “I’ve got a lot of things I can try.”Even if House Republicans can pass their spending package, the proposal will be dead on arrival in the Senate, where the Democrats who hold the majority have roundly rejected additional funding cuts.While the House remains at odds, the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, is taking matters into his own hands by attempting to advance a shell bill that could serve as a legislative vehicle for a continuing resolution. The Senate plans to hold an initial vote on that bill on Tuesday evening.“As I have said for months, we must work in a bipartisan fashion to keep our government open, avoid a shutdown and avoid inflicting unnecessary pain on the American people,” Schumer said last week. “This action will give the Senate the option to do just that.”As the House standoff stretches on, the White House has accused Republicans of playing politics at the expense of the American people. In a video shared to X, formerly known as Twitter, Joe Biden warned on Tuesday that a shutdown could force US service members to go without pay as they remain on duty.“I’m prepared to do my part, but the Republicans in the House of Representatives refuse. They refuse to stand up to the extremists in their party. So now everyone in America could be forced to pay the price,” Biden said. “Funding the government is one of the most basic responsibilities of the Congress. It’s time for these Republicans in the House to start doing their job – doing the job America elected them to do. So let’s get it done.”skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionBut Republicans simultaneously face pressure from the leader of their party, Donald Trump, to hold the line in the budget talks – even if that means risking a shutdown.Trump wrote in a post shared on his social media platform, Truth Social, on Sunday: “UNLESS YOU GET EVERYTHING, SHUT IT DOWN!”McCarthy could attempt to pass a continuing resolution with Democratic support, but such a choice would face immediate backlash from hard-right Republicans, who have threatened to oust the speaker if he opts for that bipartisan strategy.One source familiar with the thinking of more moderate House Republicans argued that only a bipartisan proposal can ultimately pass both chambers of Congress, criticizing hard-right members for seeking “to burn the place down”.“These are not serious people,” the source said. “They believe anything that Biden wants is bad, but the margins are so thin that their votes count.”Martin Pengelly contributed reporting More
In a significant blow to Bob Menendez’s hopes of staying in the US Senate while under indictment for corruption, Cory Booker – his fellow New Jersey Democrat – joined calls for the senator to resign.“The details of the allegations against Senator Menendez are of such a nature that the faith and trust of New Jerseyans as well as those he must work with in order to be effective have been shaken to the core,” Booker said on Tuesday.Booker, who has been in the US Senate since 2013, added: “I believe stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving.”By early afternoon, more than a dozen Democratic senators had called for Menendez to quit.Menendez, 69, was elected to the Senate in 2006. He survived a previous corruption investigation, which was dropped in 2017 after a jury failed to reach a verdict.Last week, Menendez was charged with using his position as chair of the Senate foreign relations committee to profit by assisting the government of Egypt, through three businessmen in his home state.The senator and his wife are alleged to have taken bribes including gold bars, a Mercedes-Benz car and more than $500,000 in cash.On Monday, speaking to reporters in Union City, Menendez said the cash was from his savings.“For 30 years,” he said, “I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings accounts, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba.“Now this may seem old-fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings accounts based on the income that I have lawfully derived over those 30 years. I look forward to addressing other issues in trial.”He did not mention the gold bars or the car or say if he planned to seek re-election. He ignored questions from reporters.“Everything I’ve accomplished, I’ve worked for despite the naysayers and everyone who has underestimated me,” Menendez said.“I recognise this will be the biggest fight yet, but as I have stated throughout this whole process, I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator.”To those calling for his resignation, he said: “The court of public opinion is no substitute for our revered justice system. Those who rushed to judgment, you have done so based on a limited set of facts framed by the prosecution to be as salacious as possible. Remember, prosecutors get it wrong.”Then, only one Democratic senator, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, had joined influential Democrats including the governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, and the New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in calling for Menendez to quit.Many observers turned their gaze to Booker, a Menendez ally and high-profile Democrat who ran for the party’s presidential nomination in 2020.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionPolitico observed: “Menendez might stick around no matter what Booker says, but if Booker calls for Menendez’s resignation it will make it safer and easier for every other Democrat who has remained mum to do the same. On the other hand, a supportive statement from Booker will be worth its weight in gold.”On Tuesday, Booker followed other Democratic senators – Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Peter Welch of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Jacky Rosen of Nevada – in saying Menendez should go.“For nearly a decade,” Booker said, “I’ve worked in the Senate alongside Senator Menendez … I’ve witnessed his extraordinary work and boundless work ethic. I’ve consistently found Senator Menendez to be intellectually gifted, tough, passionate and deeply empathic. We have developed a working relationship and a friendship.”Saying the new indictment “contains shocking allegations of corruption and specific, disturbing details of wrongdoing”, Booker said he found that “hard to reconcile with the person I know”. He expected Menendez to mount “a vigorous defence”, he said.But, he said, “there is [a] higher standard for public officials, one not of criminal law but of common ideals. As senators, we operate in the public trust … The allegations against Senator Menendez are of such a nature that the faith and trust of New Jerseyans as well as those he must work with … have been shaken to the core.“… Stepping down is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost. Senator Menendez has made these sacrifices in the past to serve. And in this case he must do so again.”Other Democratic senators followed in Booker’s footsteps.They included Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.Jon Tester of Montana, a senator widely seen as vulnerable in his re-election fight next year, said: “I’ve read the detailed charges against Senator Menendez and find them deeply disturbing.“While he deserves a fair trial like every other American, I believe Senator Menendez should resign for the sake of the public’s faith in the US Senate.” More