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“It’s Cruelty”: House Progressives Slam Debt Ceiling Bill as Vote Nears

“This never should have been the case in the first place,” said Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal.

Representative Pramila Jayapal speaks at a press conference
Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Representative Pramila Jayapal

White House and Republican negotiators seem confident that the new debt ceiling bill will pass, but it’s going to be a long fight to get there.

At least 33 Republicans have already signaled they will vote against the bill, with several calling for Kevin McCarthy to be ousted from the speakership over the measure. And many progressives don’t like the bill either.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal told reporters Wednesday that she would vote “no” on the debt bill and implied that many other caucus members would do the same. She noted the Democratic caucus meeting had a somber tone because “people feel like this never should have been the case in the first place.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said earlier this month that she would “never” vote for legislation that included spending cuts to programs or lacked a “clean” debt ceiling, meaning an increase without conditions. Her office confirmed her stance on Tuesday. Representative Greg Casar told MSNBC he would also vote “no,” describing the bill as a “ransom deal” and a “hostage situation.”

Representative Ro Khanna said that he believed enough Democrats would back the bill so that the United States won’t default, but “some of us are going to vote no on principle.”

“We don’t believe that you should be taking away food assistance from the most vulnerable when we have an affordability crisis, that you should be hurting people who are student loan borrowers,” he told Morning Joe.

A big sticking point for progressives is the changes the bill would make to food assistance. The deal would impose work requirements for the SNAP program, or food stamps, and lower the number of people who qualify for work requirement exemptions. The bill would also change the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, potentially making it harder to get cash assistance.

Not only will all this make it harder for people to get food aid, but the Congressional Budget Office found that work requirements wouldn’t actually help the deficit all that much.

Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed the bill for “demanding we pinch pennies” on food assistance and health care. “This is not fiscal responsibility. It’s cruelty,” she tweeted Tuesday.

Representative Cori Bush said she was “leaning” toward voting against the deal. “As somebody who was a food stamp recipient, there is absolutely no way I can see myself green-lighting something that will take food from people’s mouths,” she said.

Jim McGovern, a leading anti-hunger lawmaker in the House, put things the most bluntly: Republicans are cutting “funding that helps the most vulnerable in this country,” he said. “Give me a goddamn break.”

“Republicans are unfit to govern,” McGovern said. “I didn’t come to Congress to hurt people. And when I listen to my Republican friends, what is clear to me is that we don’t share the same values.”

Trump Rips Into Former Press Secretary for Mentioning Rising DeSantis Poll Numbers

Trump attacked Kayleigh McEnany, a Trump loyalist, and called her “milktoast.”

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Kayleigh McEnany

On Tuesday, twice-impeached, criminally indicted, and liable-for-sexual-abuse former President Donald Trump attacked his former press secretary, “Kayleigh Milktoast McEnany,” on his far-right social media platform, Truth Social.

Imagine reading that sentence in 2015.

“RINOS & Globalists can have her,” Trump said (“RINOS” meaning Republican in name only).

Trump went after McEnany after she appeared on Jesse Watters’s Fox show, where she discussed Ron DeSantis’s polling in Iowa. “If you look at the polling now, it was Trump [with a] 34 [point lead] in Iowa, it’s now Trump 25,” McEnany said, noting that team DeSantis saw this as a positive sign of growth since announcing the campaign. “Still, Trump’s hugely ahead, but they say they’re closing the gap. That’s their argument,” she followed.

It’s not entirely clear what poll McEnany is citing; the most recent Iowa poll had Trump up by 42 points.

“Kayleigh ‘Milktoast’ McEnany just gave out the wrong poll numbers on FoxNews. I am 34 points up on DeSanctimonious, not 25 up,” Trump lambasted on Truth Social. “She knew the number was corrected upwards by the group that did the poll.”

Trump appeared to be trying to call McEnany “milquetoast,” but, as often is the case, spelling is not his strong suit. It’s not clear what poll Trump is referring to either, for that matter.

“FoxNews should only use REAL Stars!!!” Trump concluded.

McEnany received all that flak for making observations based on numbers she presumably assumed were true. All while still noting that “Trump’s hugely ahead.”

Beyond serving as Trump’s main attack dog and shield against the press for years—both on the campaign side and in the White House—McEnany was among the leading public-facing peddlers of false claims about the 2020 election.

The day after January 6, 2021, McEnany took to the White House press podium to defend the administration, saying that “those who violently besieged our Capitol are the opposite of everything this administration stands for.” It’s a humorous claim now, given Trump has since repeatedly expressed his eagerness to pardon “those who violently besieged our Capitol.”

Twitter Is Now Worth a Third What Elon Musk Paid for It

This is what happens when you keep inviting Nazis to your site.

In this photo illustration, a Twitter logo is seen displayed on a smartphone .
Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Twitter’s value has tanked since Elon Musk took over six months ago, with the company now worth just one-third what he originally paid for it.

Musk paid $44 billion for the social media platform in October, an amount he raised with the help of 19 outside investors, which included Fidelity Investors. The company released its monthly disclosure of portfolio valuations on Tuesday, which revealed just how far Twitter has fallen.

Twitter, under its new name X Holdings Corp., was worth just $6.5 billion at the end of April, a 66 percent drop from when Musk first took the reins.* This is the second time that Fidelity recorded a decrease in Twitter’s value. Just a month after Musk bought it, Twitter’s value dropped 56 percent, according to Fidelity’s valuations report.

Musk insists there’s no issue at Twitter, but he knows better. During an interview with the BBC in April, Musk claimed Twitter was close to being “cash-flow positive.” But just a month before, he reportedly told employees that the company was worth only $20 billion, less than half what he paid for it.

Since taking over, Musk has gone to great lengths to make Twitter profitable. Those methods include firing about three-quarters of all employees, accepting money from the Taliban, not paying rent, and begging people to sign up for the Twitter Blue subscription plan. That last strategy is going super well: Far fewer than 1 percent of the platform’s more than 500 million monthly users subscribe to Twitter Blue.

Musk also gutted content moderation guidelines and let Nazis back online, which has allowed hate speech to flourish on the platform, including on his own profile. These moves sent advertisers fleeing in droves, and any efforts to win them back have been unsuccessful. Musk even self-sabotaged a bit by allowing erstwhile Fox News host Tucker Carlson to launch his new show on Twitter.

So all in all, the tanking market value sounds like just another day at Twitter under Musk.

* This piece originally misstated the valuation of Twitter at the end of April.

Biden Accuser Tara Reade Says She’s Defecting to Russia

“Luckily, the Kremlin is accommodating. So we’re lucky.”

Wikimedia Commons

Tara Reade is defecting to Russia.

On Tuesday, the former Senate aide who had accused President Joe Biden of sexual assault appeared at a Russian state press conference to make the announcement. Flanked by alleged Russian spy Maria Butina, Reade told the press that she no longer feels safe in America.

“I feel very surrounded by protection and safety,” Reade said. “And I just really so appreciate Maria [Butina] and everyone who’s been giving me that at a time when it’s been very difficult to know if I’m safe or not.”

“You have U.S. and European citizens looking for safe haven here,” Reade continued. “And luckily, the Kremlin is accommodating. So we’re lucky.”

Reade’s defection follows reports of Russia apparently being interested in building a special village outside Moscow meant to serve as a refuge for conservative Americans and Canadians.

“To my Russian brothers and sisters, I’m sorry right now that American elites are choosing to have such an aggressive stance,” Reade said during the conference. “Just know that most American citizens do want to be friends and hope that we can have unity again.”

In 2019, Reade spoke out about an alleged workplace culture in Biden’s office rife with abuses of “power and control.” Numerous outlets—including the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and Vox—spoke with her about some of the allegations but declined to report further after finding discrepancies or contradictions.

Then, in 2020, Reade officially accused then-nominee Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, when she was a staff assistant in his Senate office. Biden denied the allegations.

Initially, there seemed to be some corroboration. In The New York Times’ initial reporting, one friend was cited as recalling Reade telling her of the allegations at the time. Another friend and Reade’s brother said they had been told of details over time. Even a court document from divorce proceedings in 1996 provided some contemporaneous evidence. “On several occasions petitioner related a problem that she was having at work regarding sexual harassment in U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s office,” read the document. (Reade had divorced her husband, Ted Dronen, after accusing him of being abusive to her and their then-15-month-old daughter. Dronen had acknowledged being violent with her once, but cast doubt on some of her other testimony.)

Meanwhile, according to the Times and elsewhere, others who worked in the office with Reade said they could not attest to such an incident. Staff aides who Reade said she told at the time all said they did not recall the incident. A Politico investigation held that Reade “left a trail of aggrieved acquaintances in California’s Central Coast region who say they remember two things about her—she spoke favorably about her time working for Biden, and she left them feeling duped.”

While not uncommon for survivors, Reade was found to have changed her story numerous times. She also maintained she was fired for retaliation. But a PBS investigation featuring interviews with over 70 former Biden staffers found that Reade lost her job because of poor performance. Reade had written various reasons over the years for why she departed: to pursue acting and writing, out of fatigue at America’s “deception and xenophobia” toward Russia, or to return to the Midwest to be with a boyfriend.

In that vein, Reade has a history of supporting Russia, which makes her defection perhaps a little less surprising. After Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Reade posted a YouTube video praising Russian officials and criticized American censorship of “good news outlets” like state-run network Russia Today. Reade was able to generate such warm relations, she was apparently invited by Russian diplomats to a U.N. Security Council meeting on “weapons diversion”—something she has no expertise on.

Reade told Semafor that she was invited because of her commentary on the invasion. She also called herself a “longtime anti-imperialist” and expressed her frustrations with “Russophobia.”

2024 GOP Nominees Are Speaking at Moms for Liberty Summit, in Open Embrace of Far Right

It’s clear where the Republican Party is headed.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images Scott Olson/Getty Images

Presidential hopefuls Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis have taken their “war on woke” to the extreme, with featured speaking spots at the second annual Moms for Liberty summit.

Moms for Liberty is a far-right organization that claims it supports parental rights. In reality, it supports erasing any mention of race, racism, and LGBTQ people from school curriculums. The group is hosting a conference in July, and the speaking lineup will feature both 2024 nominees, in a sign of where the party is headed.

We need elected officials at every level of government to respect that parents should always be involved in the decisions that affect their children—especially while they are at school,” group co-founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich said in a press release about Ramaswamy’s addition to the lineup Tuesday.

Ramaswamy and DeSantis certainly fit that bill. Ramaswamy has hinged his entire campaign on fighting “wokeism,” railing against multiculturalism and gender ideology. DeSantis, meanwhile, has rampaged through Florida’s public school system, banning diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, prohibiting discussion of sexual identity, and removing books from schools.

Moms for Liberty wields a newfound power in the Republican Party, as politicians try to tap into the group’s supporter base. The group has backed bills banning transgender women and girls from playing womens’ sports, encouraged book bans, and featured other extremist speakers.

Ramaswamy and DeSantis embracing Moms for Liberty shows that they aren’t just fighting “wokeness.” The two men are ready to stamp out entire communities.

Trump Vows to End Birthright Citizenship on “Day One” if He Wins

Undoing the Fourteenth Amendment is not a joke.

Donald Trump wearing a MAGA cap
James Devaney/GC Images/Getty

Donald Trump announced Tuesday that if he is elected president, he will end birthright citizenship as part of an attempt to stop undocumented immigration to the United States.

Undoing the Fourteenth Amendment would be a lengthy and complicated process, which the former president does not seem to understand.

“As part of my plan to secure the border, on day one of my new term in office, I will sign an executive order making clear to federal agencies that under the correct interpretation of the law, going forward the future children of illegal aliens will not receive automatic U.S. citizenship,” Trump said in a video posted on his Truth Social platform.

The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868 to help guarantee rights to Black Americans after the end of slavery. The measure grants citizenship to anyone “born or naturalized in the United States” and guarantees them “equal protection under the laws.”

Trump had initially suggested ending birthright citizenship in 2018, telling Axios he was under the (false) impression that it was possible to do so via executive order, instead of by constitutional amendment. If he were to issue an executive order, it would most likely be immediately challenged in court.

The president does not have the power to unilaterally overturn a constitutional amendment, legal experts warned at the time. While some conservative scholars argue that the Fourteenth Amendment only refers to children born in the U.S. to lawful permanent residents, the general consensus is that you can’t just stop applying that part of the law.

Trump-appointed Judge James C. Ho argued at the time that the U.S. legal system has to follow its own laws, which means applying them equally to foreign visitors (except diplomats) and immigrants. “Opponents of illegal immigration cannot claim to champion the rule of law and then, in the same breath, propose policies that violate our Constitution,” he wrote in a 2011 op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, the actual process to amend the constitution is lengthy and complicated. One of the many steps requires a two-thirds vote from both the House and Senate—an unlikely event, given how divided Congress has become. So Trump’s proposal is just another empty promise.

Elon Musk Is Flirting With a Fake AOC Twitter Account

It’s not only gross, but Elon’s interactions with the account are also helping spread fake news.

Elon Musk
Clive Mason/Formula 1/Formula 1/Getty Images

A Twitter account pretending to be Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a big fan of Elon Musk—and it seems the attraction is mutual.

The real Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Tuesday that an account pretending to be her press office was sharing fake information and going viral.

“The Twitter CEO has engaged it, boosting visibility,” she said. “I am assessing with my team how to move forward. In the meantime, be careful of what you see.”

The fake account, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Press Release, identifies itself as a parody account, but that hasn’t stopped everything it posts from going viral. (Part of that may be because the account has a blue check and pays for Twitter Blue, the Musk-pushed subscription plan that provides perks such as increased visibility.)

All of the recent tweets have mentioned popular right-wing talking points, like transphobia and gas stoves, and mocked Ocasio-Cortez. But the account has also posted multiple favorable tweets about Musk.

This might be the wine talking, but I’ve got a crush on @elonmusk,” the account said on Sunday.

The Twitter CEO responded a day later, replying with a fire emoji.

As Ocasio-Cortez pointed out herself, Musk engaging with the fake account both legitimizes it and helps boost its visibility on the platform. But Musk’s joking is also indicative of the right wing’s weird obsession with the New York representative.

Republicans hate Ocasio-Cortez and are quick to blame her for just about anything. But they also all seem to find her attractive, creating a bizarre dynamic that leaves the rest of us baffled.

GOP Congressman Admits Debt Ceiling Fight Was About Helping 2024 Republican Nominee

A national default is OK as long as Republicans win the White House, according to this logic.

Representative Dan Bishop speaks at a podium on the House floor
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Representative Dan Bishop

One Republican congressman outright admitted his frustration that, if the debt ceiling gets resolved, the Republican presidential nominee won’t be able to run in 2024 on the chaos that would come if the country defaults.

“And what does the device of two years do?” North Carolina Representative Dan Bishop posed incredulously on Tuesday, flanked by far-right colleagues like Lauren Boebert and Byron Donalds. “It removes the issue from the national conversation during the presidential election to come. How could you more successfully kneecap any Republican president than to take that issue out of his or her hands?”

As Congress approaches a Wednesday vote to avoid the nation defaulting on its debt, far-right House Republicans have complained that a bill making the IRS more ineffective, imposing work requirements on more people, and ensuring military spending remains high is not enough.

Their intransigence apparently was not just about cutting as much as they could but also about carrying water for the eventual nominee—which, for most far-right members like Bishop, means Donald Trump. Republicans voted three times to raise the debt ceiling under the twice-impeached, criminally indicted, and liable-for-sexual-abuse former president.

The admission by Bishop follows Matt Gaetz’s acknowledgment last week that the debt limit talks were just about holding the government (and America) “hostage.”

All this to say, if there is any guiding principle or through line between Republicans threatening economic disaster, then complaining about America avoiding it, all while having voted to avoid such disasters in the past—it’s simply: Live and die at Trump’s beck and call.

Conservatives Are Now Boycotting Chick-fil-A for Not Being Homophobic Enough

Right-wingers are mad that the fast food chain is turning woke.

Chick-fil-A sign
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Bud Light apparently went too far after influencer Dylan Mulvaney, who is transgender, posted an Instagram video promoting a March Madness contest. Target apparently went too far by selling shirts with rainbows. And now, conservatives are setting their brain-poisoned sights on … Chick-fil-A, for the crime of having an H.R. department.

Italian American political commentator Joey Mannarino—who says his pronouns are “Shut/Up”—was at the forefront of whipping up the outrage on Monday:

“It’s only a matter of time until they start putting tranny semen in the frosted lemonade at this point,” Mannarino continued, making up a very odd scenario. Mannarino tweeted his fears while linking to Chick-fil-A’s diversity, equity, and inclusion page, where the company highlights its efforts to create a culture of belonging, invest in scholarship funds, and fight hunger.

Mannarino later posted a video—sporting sunglasses on a nice-looking balcony in Miami—insisting that he is “not mad.” (After all, he says, “I’m chilling, drinking a glass of wine on a nice afternoon.”) But he went on to claim that DEI programs are the real racism and that it’s not crazy for him to say Chick-fil-A will put “tranny semen in the frosted lemonade” because Bud Light is already apparently doing that.

Mannarino’s posts have incited an uproar among far-right online users, from noted conspiracy-peddler Stew Peters to self-proclaimed “moderate” Tim Pool.

A basic fact-check first: The company has not “just hired a VP of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” The current vice president has in fact served in the role since November 2021.

The real humor, of course, is the idea of conservatives boycotting one of the more historically culturally conservative chains in America. As of 2012, Chick-fil-A had donated over $5 million to viciously anti-LGTBQ groups. At the time, as the company faced backlash for the revelations, Republicans like Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee even led vapid counterprotesting efforts, like “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, to reward the company for not supporting same-sex marriage.

And even while the company eventually promised in 2019 to stop donating to anti-LGBTQ groups, its owner, Dan Cathy, hasn’t. Cathy is a major donor to a far-right organization that bankrolled efforts to kill the Equality Act, which would have banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Despite all that, online conservatives have whipped themselves up into a frenzy at the idea of a company embracing the notion of different kinds of people feeling equal and included.

The asymmetry of what people care about would be all the more funny—if it weren’t so depressing. Different factions of the left in America are boycotting deep-seated systems of power: anti-LGBTQ companies, the war machine, toxic fossil fuel interests, Israel and its treatment of Palestine. The far right, meanwhile, is attacking pretty much any entity that even expresses support or affirmation for diversity or queer people.

And they seem to have bountiful gratitude toward one individual in particular—who has platformed much of this conspiratorial brain-melting sludge, if not expressed support for it himself.

“@ElonMusk giving us back Twitter has allowed us to effectively organize and boycott companies where we can do genuine financial damage,” Mannarino proclaimed Monday.

Here Are the House Republicans Expected to Vote Against the Debt Ceiling Deal

Kevin McCarthy does not have his entire party behind him.

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Kevin McCarthy

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy seems confident that he can rally enough Republican votes to pass the new debt ceiling bill—but it doesn’t look like he’ll have an easy time.

Republican and White House negotiators finally reached a deal over the weekend to raise the debt ceiling and avoid default, just days before the U.S. government runs out of money. But the outcry from the GOP has been swift.

At least 25 Republican representatives have already stated they intend to vote against the bill. Others have expressed opposition to the measure, a sign that they will likely vote “no.” Texas Representative Wesley Hunt and Florida Representative Cory Mills both said they would not vote for the deal.

Matt Gaetz said he, Ken Buck, Tim Burchett, and Andy Biggs (who has never been a McCarthy fan) “have never voted to raise the Debt Limit for this woke and weaponized government.” Victoria Spartz said she “will NOT support this gamesmanship” and suggested giving negotiators more time to make a new deal—even though there’s no time left, thanks to Republican refusal to negotiate.

Nancy Mace said she would vote “no” on the bill and called Washington “broken.” (Take this one with a grain of salt though. Mace very publicly opposed three previous GOP leadership-backed bills: one to remove Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, an anti-abortion bill, and McCarthy’s previous debt limit bill. She ultimately voted for all of those measures, so the odds are good she will pull a similar 180 here.)

Other definite “no”s include Chip Roy, Anna Paulina Luna, Byron Donalds, and Lauren Boebert—all members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus that vehemently opposed McCarthy’s bid for speakership and has been a thorn in his side ever since he won the gavel. McCarthy made multiple concessions to the caucus in order to become speaker, including restoring the motion to vacate, which would allow any single member of the House to call for a vote to remove him.

Members expected to vote “no” include Andy Ogles, Clay Higgins, and George Santos. Santos’s opposition is surprising, given he essentially owes his continued congressional career to McCarthy. The speaker has repeatedly been willing to overlook Santos’s many, many fabrications and legal troubles in order to keep the House majority. Mike Lee has also indicated he opposes the bill, tweeting that the House Rules committee should reject the deal and negotiators draw up a new one, “this time without the capitulation.”

This post has been updated.