Two US Lawmakers Test Positive For COVID-19 After Capitol Riot

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest outside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. PHOTO: ALEX EDELMAN / AFP

 

Two members of the US Congress have tested positive for the coronavirus, with one on Tuesday accusing Republicans of refusing to wear masks and mocking those who did during a riot at the legislature last week.

In a tweet, Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said she had taken a test after being trapped in a secure room with fellow lawmakers, and that she had tested positive.

“Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic — creating a superspreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack,” Jayapal, who is now self-isolating, she said.

READ ALSO: 22 Trapped After Explosion In Chinese Gold Mine

“The duration in the room was multiple hours and several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one.”

Hours earlier, fellow Democratic congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman said she too had contracted the virus and that she believed she had been exposed to it during last week’s violence.

“She believes she was exposed during protective isolation in the U.S. Capitol building as a result of insurrectionist riots,” her office said in a statement.

Top Congressional doctor Brian Monahan warned lawmakers over the weekend that they could have been exposed to the virus after taking shelter in an isolation room last Wednesday.

Just hours after pro-Trump protestors stormed the US Capitol to demand Congress overturn the November 3 election victory of President-elect Joe Biden, Congressman Jake LaTurner tested positive for the virus.

The US is the world’s hardest-hit country and some 375,000 people have died from the coronavirus — with about 3,000 more dying every day.

In her statement following her positive diagnosis, Congresswoman Jayapal said colleagues that refused to wear masks were guilty of “selfish idiocy” and should not be allowed to take their seats in the chamber.

AFP

US Congress Approves $900Bn Stimulus Package


STR / AFP

 

US lawmakers on Monday approved a $900 billion relief package for the world’s biggest economy that will provide a long-sought boost for millions of Americans and businesses battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Overwhelming approval in the Senate and House of Representatives cleared the way for the legislation to be sent to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.

Trump signed a stopgap measure early Tuesday to keep the federal government funded until December 28 and avert a shutdown.

“The American people can rest assured that more help is on the way, immediately,” Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said on Twitter.

As the Covid-19 death count rises amid a massive coronavirus resurgence that further threatens the economy, Republican and Democratic legislators have finally hammered out a bill after months of wrangling and partisan finger-pointing.

The deal will spare millions of jobless workers who were days away from seeing their unemployment benefits expire, and provide a new round of cash payouts.

Small businesses will benefit from more government grants, while the package also includes rental assistance and help to families facing eviction.

“It’s a good bipartisan deal,” Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “We will do some good with this legislation.”

But “as President-elect Joe Biden has said, it’s a first step, and we will need to do more. More to get virus assistance to crush the virus. More money to buy vaccines,” she said on the House floor.

The US is facing the world’s largest coronavirus outbreak, and cases have surged in recent months, threatening a tentative economic recovery. The death toll has topped 319,000.

Recent data showed retail sales slowed heading into the usually-strong holiday shopping season, while new applications for unemployment benefits have risen for four of the past five weeks after months of declines.

– Cash injection –

The massive package is part of a $2.3 trillion “coronabus” bill that includes a so-called omnibus bill to fund the government for the coming year.

The measure will include a new round of pandemic relief payments, and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the $600 checks will go out as early as next week.

That amounts to “$2,400 for a family of four, so much needed relief just in time for the holidays,” Mnuchin said Monday on CNBC.

While the direct payments are only half the amount provided by the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that Congress approved in March, Mnuchin said it is a “very fast way of getting money into the economy.”

The $600 payments go to Americans earning less than $75,000 a year and will be reduced for higher incomes, while those who bring home $99,000 or more will not get a check.

The largest provision is the $275 billion in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aid for businesses, which are government loans that convert to grants if spent on wages and rent.

The agreement also contains $25 billion in rental assistance and extends an eviction moratorium for one month.

Biden, who will be sworn in on January 20, has welcomed the agreement but said Sunday that much more will be needed to provide “support to struggling families, and investments in jobs and economic recovery.”

After months of talk, the deal seemed endangered in the final days by a dispute over a Republican-backed provision to limit the ability of the Federal Reserve to provide more emergency lending.

But Democrats were able to block that move by Republican Senator Patrick Toomey, although they were not able to insert billions of dollars in aid to state and local governments on the front line of responding to the virus impact.

-AFP

‘Stop The Pain’: George Floyd’s Brother Tells US Lawmakers

Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, wipes away his tears as he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee about policing practices and law enforcement accountability prompted by the death of George Floyd while in police custody, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on June 10, 2020. Erin Schaff / POOL / AFP

 

 

The brother of George Floyd, whose killing by police sparked worldwide protests against racism, made an emotional plea on Wednesday to the US Congress to “stop the pain” and pass reforms that make officers accountable for brutality.

One day after burying his brother in Houston, Philonise Floyd appeared in person before a House hearing, where he described the anguish of watching a viral video of George’s death and demanded lawmakers act to fix law enforcement problems including systemic racism.

“I’m here to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain,” the younger Floyd said.

“I can’t tell you the kind of pain you feel when you watch… your big brother, who you looked up to your whole entire life, die — die begging for his mom,” he said.

“He didn’t deserve to die over $20,” he said, referring to his brother’s alleged effort to use a counterfeit bill before his arrest.

“I’m asking you: is that what a black man is worth, $20?” Floyd asked. “This is 2020. Enough is enough.”

Floyd, who wore an anti-virus mask bearing an image of his brother, wiped his forehead and fought back tears as he implored lawmakers to “listen to the call” he and protesters were making for justice.

“Maybe by speaking with you today, I can make sure that his death will not be in vain.”

After the hearing, fist raised, he joined demonstrators on the streets outside the White House demanding justice and police reforms.

“There is systemic racism not just in our law enforcement but also in housing, education, and everything we do,” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted after the hearing.

“We have to do the hard work to end it.”

– ‘The pain of America’ –

George Floyd, 46, died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, when a white officer, who has since been charged with murder, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Protests — some violent, most peaceful — erupted nationwide in some of the most serious US civil unrest in generations.

Lawmakers united in expressions of sorrow and support for Floyd, with longtime House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner telling him: “The pain of your brother I think has become the pain of America.”

The five-hour-plus hearing came after congressional Democrats unveiled a package of reforms this week aimed at ending police brutality.

The legislation would ban chokeholds, make it easier to prosecute officers for abuse, require anti-racism training, and bar fired personnel from working in police forces in other districts.

It would also restrict police departments’ use of qualified immunity, which shields officers from being held personally responsible for wrongdoing.

“If there is no accountability,” Floyd family lawyer Benjamin Crump said, police brutality and other abuse “will keep happening.”

House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said that while most cops were decent and law-abiding, there was a “systemic problem” in law enforcement that requires comprehensive solutions.

“The nation demands and deserves a meaningful change,” Nadler said.

– Killers ‘will face justice’ –

With lawmakers agreeing on the need for a genuine discussion about police treatment of African Americans, several Republicans including Jim Jordan expressed their desire to enact reforms.

“It’s as wrong as wrong can be,” Jordan told Philonise Floyd about George’s death, “and your brother’s killers will face justice.”

Lawmakers heard too from the sister of a security officer who recently died in Oakland, California, in a shooting blamed on protesters.

“We will never solve generational, systemic injustice with looting, burning, destruction of property and killing in the name of justice,” said Angela Underwood Jacobs, who extended her condolences to Floyd’s brother.

She also described as “ridiculous” calls by leftist activists to “defund the police,” an effort that has been attacked by President Donald Trump and Republicans as dangerous and misguided.

Tensions rose during an exchange between House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries and Dan Bongino, a conservative radio host and former Secret Service officer.

Jeffries noted how several white accused mass murderers were arrested without incident while many unarmed black Americans have been killed in police encounters.

“I don’t know why you’re making a racial thing of it,” Bongino said.

“Because black lives matter, sir,” Jeffries said, shooting Bongino a withering look.

“Yeah, all lives matter, sir,” Bongino countered.

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he was launching reforms to provide “a new paradigm of peacekeeping” for the community.

The move is an apparent bid to appease the city council which recently pledged to dismantle the police force.

AFP

‘They Are Not After Me But After You’ – Trump Fights Back

US President Donald Trump gestures during a working lunch at the NATO summit at the Grove hotel in Watford, northeast of London on December 4, 2019.
Nicholas Kamm / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump, who was impeached on Wednesday, has suggested his critics are not after him but after the American people.

Trump made the suggestion when he tweeted a photo on Thursday morning, hours after the US House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment that rendered him the third American President to be found unworthy by Congress.

“In reality, they are not after me, they are after you,” the inscription on the photo read, “I’m just in the way.”

Trump was impeached for abuse of power in a historic vote in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, setting up a Senate trial on removing him from office after three turbulent years.

By a 230 to 197 vote in the Democratic-majority House, the 45th US president became just the third occupant of the White House in American history to be impeached.

‘Impeachment Is The Only Remedy’ – Hillary Clinton Backs Trump’s Sack

In this file photo taken on June 01, 2017 former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks onstage with novelist Cheryl Strayed at “An Evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton” during the BookExpo in New York/ AFP

 

Former US Democratic Presidential Candidate, Hillary Clinton, has praised the impeachment of Donald Trump by the US House of Representatives.

Clinton, who lost to Trump in the 2016 US elections, said Trump had abused his powers and left the lawmakers no choice but to approve his impeachment.

“One of our most precious rights as Americans is the right to determine who our leaders are,” she tweeted on Wednesday.

“The president abused his powers to cheat in the next election and rob us of that right. Then he obstructed Congress to cover it up. Impeachment is the only remedy.”

Trump was impeached for abuse of power in a historic vote in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, setting up a Senate trial on removing him from office after three turbulent years.

By a 230 to 197 vote in the Democratic-majority House, the 45th US president became just the third occupant of the White House in American history to be impeached.

Trump Impeachment Bid Blocked In Congress

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak during a rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida to officially launch his 2020 campaign on June 18, 2019. Trump kicks off his reelection campaign at what promised to be a rollicking evening rally in Orlando. PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

A fired-up Donald Trump took aim once more at Democratic lawmakers who “hate” America as he hit the campaign trail Wednesday, hours after an opposition bid to impeach the US president over “racist” attacks was shot down in Congress.

Egging on a sea of supporters in Greenville, North Carolina, Trump reeled off the names of the ethnic minority congresswomen whom he has urged to “go back” to their countries of origin in a series of incendiary tweets.

“These left-wing ideologues see our nation as a force of evil,” charged Trump — whose tweets were condemned as “racist” a day earlier by the House of Representatives, although a subsequent attempt to launch impeachment proceedings failed in the chamber.

“Send her back!” the crowd roared when Trump cited Ilhan Omar — one of just two Muslim women in Congress, whose criticism of Israel has been deemed anti-Semitic by many lawmakers.

“The way they speak so badly of our country,” Trump told his supporters, decked out in the colors of the US flag and “Make America Great Again” caps.

“They want to demolish our constitution. Eliminate the values that built this magnificent country.”

Pouring scorn on all four congresswomen — known as “The Squad” — Trump aimed perhaps his harshest taunts at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the outspoken New York lawmaker who has likened migrant detention centers at the Mexican border to concentration camps.

“I don’t have time to go with three different names. We will call her Cortez,” he mocked, to the crowd’s delight.

– ‘Enjoying’ the battle –

Trump’s attacks have widely been seen as a bid to rally his right-wing base as the 2020 White House race heats up — at the risk of inflaming racial tensions and deepening partisan divisions in America.

He himself has given credence to the notion, telling reporters he was “enjoying” his battle with the congresswomen “because I have to get the message out to the American people.”

Democratic leaders have rallied around their colleagues — Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley. All are American citizens and all except Omar, who is of Somali origin, were born in the United States.

But even as anger simmered in Democratic ranks, many in the party joined Republicans in the House of Representatives in voting to block an attempt to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump — illustrating divisions in the Democratic-controlled chamber.

Trump meanwhile put a victorious spin on the evening’s news as he arrived in Greenville, pumped up for his first rally since announcing his 2020 re-election bid.

“We have just received an overwhelming vote against impeachment,” he told reporters, calling it a “most ridiculous project.”

“And that’s the end of it. Let the Democrats now go back to work,” Trump said.

– ‘Those words are racism’ –

Trump’s four-day attack on the congresswomen — including taunts such as “if you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!” — and the Democratic response have laid bare deep rifts in Washington.

While the rhetoric has enraged liberals, just four Republicans voted with the 235 Democrats Tuesday night to condemn Trump for “racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”

Pelosi stood by the resolution condemning Trump’s language. “By its definition, those words are racism,” she said.

But she told reporters she would rather see ongoing investigations of Trump play out before launching any divisive impeachment effort.

Pushing back at Democrats, the president — who years ago pushed the “birther” conspiracy that Barack Obama was not born in the United States — has insisted he does not “have a Racist bone in my body!”

According to a Wednesday poll from USAToday/Ipsos, two-thirds of respondents disagree, judging that telling minority Americans to “go back to where they came from” is racist.

But initial indications suggest the episode has not hurt Trump’s support among Republicans: his approval rating has risen five points to 72 percent, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

And the issue of immigration — which was core to Trump’s 2016 campaign, and will be again in 2020 — continues to strike a powerful chord.

A Pew study released Wednesday showed that 57 of Republicans feel America risks “risk losing our identity as a nation” if it is too open to immigrants.

Dwelling at length on his upset victory over Hillary Clinton — “one of the most extraordinary and exciting evenings in history of television” — Trump urged his supporters in Greenville, “We have to do it again.”

And the crowd chanted back: “Four More Years!”

US Muslim Lawmaker Sorry For Tweet That Sparked Anti-Semitism Row

In this file photo taken on February 7, 2019 US Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, speaks during a press conference calling on Congress to cut funding for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and to defund border detention facilities, outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

Ilhan Omar, one of the first two Muslim women in the US Congress, “unequivocally” apologized Monday after suggesting US support for Israel is fueled by money from a pro-Israel lobby group.

The Minnesota freshman has faced criticism for weeks over her positions on the Jewish state, but it boiled over late Sunday after she reacted to a Republican critic in a tweet.

“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” Omar replied, referring to American $100 bills featuring the likeness of Benjamin Franklin.

When a user asked who Omar believes is paying US politicians to support Israel, the former Somali refugee tweeted a one-word response — “AIPAC!” — referring to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The exchanges triggered an uproar, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi castigating Omar and demanding an “immediate” apology for using “anti-Semitic tropes” in her tweet, and several Democrats and Republicans assailing their colleague for her language.

Omar obliged, issuing a statement acknowledging that anti-Semitism is “real” and expressing gratitude to colleagues “who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes.”

“We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity,” she said.

“This is why I unequivocally apologize.”

Democrat Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee of which Omar is a member, called it “shocking to hear a Member of Congress invoke the anti-Semitic trope of ‘Jewish money.'”

Liz Cheney, a top Republican in the House of Representatives, urged Democratic leaders to remove Omar from the committee.

‘Swift Action’

Several lawmakers said Omar was wrong about why lawmakers support Israel, arguing that the support is based on shared values and strategic interests, but many quickly applauded Omar for her apology.

“Thank you for the apology and for hearing the voices of Jewish Americans,” tweeted congressman Josh Gottheimer.

Gottheimer joined fellow House Democrat Elaine Luria in circulating a letter addressed to Pelosi and other leaders urging them to take “swift action” against anti-Semitic language by members.

The letter’s authors, who are both Jewish, did not mention Omar by name, but their intent was clear.

“We must speak out when any Member — Democrat or Republican –- uses harmful tropes and stereotypes, levels accusations of dual loyalty, or makes reckless statements like those yesterday,” they wrote.

Omar has been critical of Israel’s government over its treatment of Palestinians. She has supported the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which aims to put economic and political pressure on Israel.

Omar and fellow Muslim congressional freshman Rashida Tlaib’s support for the boycott has opened a breach in the Democratic Party and threatens to create a fissure in the ironclad US-Israeli alliance.

Last month, Omar expressed regret for saying in a 2012 tweet that Israel “has hypnotized the world” while carrying out “evil.”

AIPAC has formidable financial clout, and it prides itself on its influence in US politics.

Vice President Mike Pence’s Brother Elected To US Congress

Greg Pence, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and brother of Vice President Mike Pence, speaks at a campaign rally on November 2, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. President Trump is campaigning across the Midwest supporting Republican candidates in the upcoming midterm elections. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images/AFP

 

Greg Pence, the older brother of US Vice President Mike Pence, won a seat in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday soon after polls began closing in the midterm elections.  

The 61-year-old businessman and military veteran claimed victory for the Republicans in the district his younger brother once held in Indiana.

Prior to becoming Donald Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence went from serving in the heavily-Republican 6th district in southern Indiana to become governor of the conservative Midwestern state.

In his first campaign for public office, the elder Pence promised to support the agenda pushed by his brother and Trump in Washington, describing himself as a conservative who opposes abortion and supports gun ownership rights.

With less than a fifth of votes counted, Pence declared victory with 68 per cent and was projected as the winner by US networks CNN and NBC.

“As many of you, I continue to be inspired by President Trump,” Pence said in his victory speech.

“I support the president’s agenda to fight for the middle class and ensure commonsense policies get through and accomplished by Congress.”

Pence’s opponent was Democrat Jeannine Lake, a self-described Christian Democrat who supported tuition-free college and universal health care, and opposed Trump’s trade tariffs that she said had financially hurt farmers.

Pence will fill an open seat vacated by Luke Messer, who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate.

AFP

Another Shutdown Looms As US Congress Haggles Over Spending

 

The United States Congress /CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

US lawmakers aimed to thread the needle Tuesday on an enormous federal spending bill, rushing to meet a looming deadline before government funding expires, yet again, in three days.

If no action is taken by midnight Friday, the US government could tumble into shutdown for the third time this year.

Republicans and Democrats have spent the past several weeks thrashing out a roughly $1.2 trillion deal on spending for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said that “some unresolved issues” remained, but that he was hoping it would be finalized and released later in the day.

That would give lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate, both of which are controlled by Republicans, little time to study, debate and then pass the massive legislation before the deadline.

Still, congressional leaders remained hopeful that a shutdown could be avoided.

“A few sticking points remain, but we are very close” to a deal, top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said.

Schumer, President Donald Trump’s chief rival in Congress, would not address some of the specifics involved in the final haggling.

“We’re at the end of negotiations, I don’t want to jeopardize anything,” he said.

The measure follows the outlines of a 2018-2019 budget deal reached last month that boosts both military and domestic spending by more than 10 percent.

Ryan was expecting “the biggest increase in defense spending in 15 years” — about $80 billion above current spending limits — a move he said would reverse the damage caused by a decade of budget constraints on the armed forces.

Democrats can meanwhile claim increased domestic spending on issues like infrastructure, education and battling the opioid crisis.

But several politically sensitive riders — elements that are attached to must-pass legislation because they would have little chance of success on their own — were still up in the air, including an effort by Democrats to fund Obamacare subsidies granted to insurance companies serving low-income patients.

One outstanding issue is whether to boost border and immigration enforcement funding, including funding for Trump’s pledged border wall, along with temporary protections for immigrants who arrived illegally in the country as minors.

Last-minute haggling was also taking place over language on abortion services funding and a measure that would tighten enforcement of background checks on gun purchases.

‘This week’

Also in play: possible federal funding for the multi-billion-dollar Gateway commuter rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey.

“This is a needed project and I hope Congress rises to the occasion,” Schumer said.

But Trump is opposed to spending federal money on its construction, and it is unclear whether that would be enough to keep the provision out of the so-called “omnibus” spending bill.

With time ticking away, talk on Capitol Hill turned to the prospect of a possible short-term funding bill to avoid the embarrassing election-year prospect of a third government shutdown in as many months.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot down the speculation. “My focus is on finishing this omnibus… and we’re going to do it this week,” he said.

Congress failed twice before to pass a 2018 federal spending bill before the deadline, sending the government into shutdowns that lasted a few days in January, and a few hours in February.

House conservatives were already expressing concern about the latest spending bill, projected to add billions to the US deficit just months after Trump signed a massive tax cut into law.

“Many of us Republicans have a major problem with the amount of spending that’s going on here in Washington DC,” House Republican Mark Walker told Fox News.

“We must show some true discipline” on fiscal issues, he added.

AFP

US Congress Moves To Tackle Sexual Harassment

Gun Control, US Congress

The US Congress returned to Washington Monday after the Thanksgiving break determined to tackle sexual harassment within its ranks, following a string of allegations targeting sitting lawmakers.

Comedian-turned-Democratic-senator Al Franken, under scrutiny over multiple allegations of misconduct, offered a fresh apology as he arrived on Capitol Hill, while veteran Democrat John Conyers has stepped down from a leadership position over similar claims.

Compounding the discomfort on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump — who himself has faced multiple accusations of harassment — has doubled down on his support for Roy Moore, the embattled Republican Senate candidate from Alabama who stands accused of molesting or harassing teenage girls as young as 14.

As Washington began coming to grips with the extent of the problem in its midst, following broader revelations of endemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and the media, Congress has taken steps to right a listing ship.

The Senate recently approved a resolution calling for mandatory anti-harassment training for all senators and staff. The House of Representatives votes on a similar measure this week.

With fresh allegations targeting two unnamed lawmakers, a congresswoman introduced a House bill that would overhaul the antiquated process for filing sexual harassment complaints in Congress to allow for greater transparency, accountability, and victim support.

The Congressional Office of Compliance acknowledged last week that it has paid victims over $17 million in more than 260 settlements since 1997.

But under current rules, accusers are required to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to initiate complaints, and any financial settlement reached is secret and paid for by US taxpayers.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s ME TOO CONGRESS Act would do away with such requirements, and force a lawmaker who settles a harassment claim to repay the government for the amount of the award.

“This is not a victim-friendly process,” Speier, herself a victim of harassment as a young congressional staffer, told ABC Sunday, referring to the existing system.

Speier’s legislation appears to have the support of top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who called for “an end to the days of secret settlements paid for by taxpayer dollars.”

– ‘No magic words’ –

On Monday, Senator Franken returned to Washington to face the scrutiny of his colleagues — including fellow Democrats who have long called out the president over the allegations of misconduct levied against him.

Franken has apologized repeatedly after a sports broadcaster and former model, Leeann Tweeden, accused him of kissing her, and touching her without consent as she slept during a tour entertaining US troops deployed in Afghanistan.

Three women have since come forward to say Franken touched their buttocks inappropriately.

“I know that I have let a lot of people down,” Franken told reporters outside his office in Congress. “To all of you, I just want to again say I am sorry.

“I know there are no magic words that I can say to regain your trust and I know that’s going to take time. I’m ready to start that process and it starts with going back to work today.”

Long a darling of the political left, Franken previously described a photograph that appeared to show him groping Tweeden’s breasts while she was asleep in body armor, as “inexcusable” — but has also insisted he would not leave the Senate.

Democratic leader Pelosi has also been forced to contend with one of her party’s major figures, congressman Conyers, who stands accused of sexually harassing staff members.

Targeted by a House Ethics Committee investigation, the 88-year-old Conyers, the longest-serving lawmaker currently in Congress, has left his post on the leadership of the Judiciary Committee.

“No matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment,” Pelosi tweeted.

For Republicans, the broader debate on harassment is tied up with the allegations targeting Moore, who has refused to exit his Senate race despite the accusation he assaulted several teenaged girls.

The leadership of Trump’s Republican Party has withdrawn support for Moore, as have a number of senators, but the president himself has redoubled his support for the former Alabama judge.

Trump tweeted Sunday that “the last thing” Republicans need in the closely divided Senate is a Democrat like Moore’s rival Doug Jones, who he described as “WEAK” on crime, immigration, gun rights and tax reform.

AFP

Trump Takes Victory Lap, Says Obamacare Is Dead

United States President Donald Trump took a ‘victory lap’ at the White House Rose Garden on Thursday after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to repeal major parts of Obamacare and replace it with a Republican healthcare plan.

The bill’s passage represented a step toward fulfilling a top Trump campaign pledge and a seven-year Republican quest to dismantle Democratic former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.

Even as lawmakers were voting, Trump had announced plans to hold a victory celebration in the White House Rose Garden if the legislation was approved.

The effort now faces new hurdles in the Senate, where the Republicans have only a 52-seat majority in the 100-seat chamber and where just a few Republican defections could sink the bill.

Thursday’s vote handed Trump his biggest legislative victory.

With the 217-213 vote, Republicans obtained just enough support to push the legislation through the House, sending it to the Senate for consideration. No Democrats voted for the bill.

Gun Control: US Democrats Occupy Congress

Gun Control, US CongressA mild drama has taken place at the U.S. Senate where democrats staged a sit-in on the floor of the lower house to demand tighter gun control.

This comes after a man claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people at the pulse nightclub in Orlando, in the deadliest shooting in modern US history.

Although the 16-hour sit-in at the US House of Representatives failed to force a vote on tougher laws, members of the centre-left Democratic Party said they will keep fighting for gun control

Unlike the Senate, there is no formal mechanism for lawmakers in the House to hold the floor indefinitely.

One congressman, John Lewis, told his colleagues to never give up.

“How many more mothers, how many more fathers need to shed tears of grief before we do something? We were elected to lead, Mr Speaker,” Lewis said during the sit-in.

However, Republican speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, dismissed the protest as a publicity stunt.

“This bill was already defeated in the United States Senate,” the Speaker of the House said, justifying Republican opposition to the bill by adding: “We are not going to take away a citizen’s constitutional rights to due process.”

Ryan further denied that the issue was gun control, but rather terrorism.

“Let’s find out what we need to do to prevent future terrorist attacks. And if a person is on a terror watch list and they go try to buy a gun, we have procedures in place to deal with that,” he told CNN.

Senators are pushing for a compromise, with top Democratic senator Harry Reid, supporting a Republican proposal that would stop gun sales to a limited number of people on some terrorism watch lists.