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Month: January 2019

Jackson Lee Resigns From Key Posts After Handling of Rape Case Scrutinized

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas) resigned as the head of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) after facing criticism for her handling of a workplace sexual harassment claim. Jackson Lee was sued last week by a former CBCF intern who claims the Texas congresswoman retaliated against her after she reported she was raped by former CBCF intern coordinator Damien Jones. The lawsuit alleges Jackson Lee fired the woman years later after she began legal proceedings against Jones. Jackson Lee had been asked by the CBCF board of directors to step down, but refused to do so, Politico reported last week. At least one board member responded in protest, and Politico reported that “sources with knowledge of the situation say more are expected to follow if [Jackson Lee] remains.” Jackson Lee relented Wednesday. The 13-term congresswoman also resigned her chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee’s influential Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, but the New York Times reports that she will only step aside temporarily. “The Congresswoman is confident that, once all of the facts come to light, her Office will be exonerated of any retaliatory or otherwise improper conduct and this matter will be put to rest,” Jackson Lee’s office said in a statement. “While we still deny the allegations, we are especially concerned about Ms. Doe and only want the best for her and the many, many...

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Gillibrand: Packing Supreme Court Is ‘Interesting Idea’

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) referred to packing the Supreme Court as an “interesting idea” on Tuesday during an interview with “Pod Save America.” Gillibrand appeared on the popular left-wing podcast to discuss her recently launched 2020 presidential campaign, and former Barack Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau told her the next Democratic president “needs to consider reforming the Supreme Court, potentially adding seats, potentially instituting term limits.” “What do you think of those ideas? Either of those appealing to you?” he asked. “Well, they’re interesting ideas that I would need to think more about,” she said. “But I do think what President Trump has done with the judiciary is shocking and is so destructive.” Some liberals who are angry with the present tilt of the court—five conservatives and four liberals—have thrown around the idea of appointing enough left-leaning justices to shift the balance back in their favor when in power. There is no stipulation in the Constitution that the Supreme Court have only nine justices. Firebrand attorney Michael Avenatti, who toyed around with running for president last year before deciding against it, said supporting such a measure should be a litmus test for Democrats. Gillibrand, who like most Democrats voted against Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch when they were nominated to the Supreme Court, said they were both “disqualified in my mind” because of their records and statements. Gillibrand particularly...

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Trump Recognizes Opposition Leader as Venezuela’s Interim President

By Matt Spetalnick and Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration ratcheted up pressure on Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday, announcing U.S. recognition of the country’s opposition leader as interim president and signaling potential new sanctions against its vital oil sector. With street protests against Maduro underway across Venezuela, Trump said the United States recognized Juan Guaido, head of the opposition-controlled Congress, as the country’s leader and called socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s government “illegitimate.” “I will continue to use the full weight of United States economic and diplomatic power to press for the restoration of Venezuelan democracy,” Trump said in a statement, encouraging other governments in the Western Hemisphere to also recognize Guaido. The administration had been waiting to issue its announcement after Guaido had been sworn in as the country’s temporary president on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Venezuelan opposition sympathizers had been urging Guaido to assume the presidency since Maduro was inaugurated to a second term on Jan. 10 following a widely boycotted election last year that the United States and many other foreign governments described as a fraudulent. Guaido, a newcomer on the national scene who was elected to head Congress on Jan. 5, had said earlier he was willing to replace Maduro if he had the support of the military, with the aim of then calling for free elections. U.S....

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Senators Again Floating Importing Prescription Drugs

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) are testing the waters of the 116th Congress for support of importing drugs from Canada, an effort to combat exploding prescription costs. But the pair’s proposal is likely to face suspicion from Republicans, as well as strong public opposition from law enforcement, worried about how it might unwittingly introduce more deadly fentanyl into the United States. The Safe and Affordable Drugs from Canada Act (SADCA), introduced by Grassley and Klobuchar, would permit individuals to legally fill prescriptions at Canadian pharmacies assuming that the drug they are seeking is not a controlled or otherwise dangerous substance. This is not Klobuchar’s first partnership with a Republican on the issue; in 2017, she joined with then-Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) to try to pass the SADCA as part of the Senate budget bill. Grassley, who the Hill reports has long been a proponent of prescription drug importation, argued that his and Klobuchar’s proposal would help families unable to afford sky-high American drug prices. “For decades, safe and affordable prescription drugs have been for sale just across the border, but legally out of reach for American families,” Grassley said at the time of the SADCA’s release. “It’s long past time for Congress to help the millions of Americans who struggle to pay exorbitant prices for medication.” The price of prescription drugs has risen steadily...

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LA Teacher Sues Union Over Forced Dues

The Los Angeles teachers union may have just ended a lengthy strike over a contract dispute, but could soon find itself back in court as a local educator filed a class action suit over forced dues. A public school teacher has filed a class action suit against United Teachers Los Angeles, alleging that it illegally subjected her to a strict window period for resigning her membership. The teacher attempted to cut off her dues payments following the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling, which declared mandatory fee payments unconstitutional, but was rebuffed by union officials. The suit argues that the “restrictive” resignation policy violates the First Amendment rights of teachers. “After being notified of Seager’s decision to revoke any prior dues authorization, Los Angeles District and UTLA, directly or indirectly, nonetheless continues to deduct dues from her paychecks, in furtherance of UTLA’s restrictive revocation policies,” the complaint filed by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation says. “Unless enjoined from so doing, UTLA and Los Angeles District will continue to collect/deduct union dues from employees.” UTLA did not return requests for comment. The suit was filed on Tuesday evening after the union finished a six-day strike that left half a million students out of school. The school district offered the union several key concessions, including a prospective cap on charter schools—which often operate without unions—in the city, as well as an effort to cut...

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