On Thursday, the Senate voted 68–27 to advance legislation that would repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force, or AUMFs, against Iraq.
Here is a list of every senator—all Republicans—who voted against advancing the legislation:
- Marsha Blackburn
- John Boozman
- Katie Britt
- Shelley Moore Capito
- John Cornyn
- Tom Cotton
- Mike Crapo
- Joni Ernst
- Deb Fischer
- Lindsey Graham
- Bill Hagerty
- Cindy Hyde-Smith
- John Neely Kennedy
- James Lankford
- Markwayne Mullin
- Pete Ricketts
- James Risch
- Mitt Romney
- Mike Rounds
- Marco Rubio
- Rick Scott
- Tim Scott
- Dan Sullivan
- John Thune
- Thom Tillis
- Tommy Tuberville
- Roger Wicker
Republicans John Barrasso, Ted Cruz, and Mitch McConnell, as well as Democrats Dianne Feinstein and John Fetterman, were absent.
On Thursday, the Senate voted 68–27 to advance legislation that would repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force, or AUMFs, against Iraq.
The bipartisan legislation seeks to eliminate the authorizations that opened the door for the Gulf War under President George H.W. Bush, and the invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush. Monday will mark 20 years since the 2003 invasion.
Repealing military authorizations has been an ongoing struggle. In June 2021, the House voted 268–161 to roll back the 2002 AUMF but the effort fizzled away in the Senate.
The 2001 AUMF after September 11, however, is untouched by this legislation. In its endorsement of the legislation to repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations, the Biden administration noted that the U.S. “conducts no ongoing military activities that rely primarily” on the two authorizations. “Repeal of these authorizations would have no impact on current U.S. military Operations,” the administration notes.
The 2001 AUMF has been used to justify U.S. action in Afghanistan, Cuba, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, the Philippines, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, among others.
Thursday’s advancement to repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations follows the House last week rejecting a War Powers Resolution that would’ve required a withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Syria. Only 56 Democrats and 47 Republicans voted in favor of the resolution.
So while the move to advance the legislation is encouraging, it’s worth noting that the advancement is largely symbolic. Which is not to say it’s futile; symbols, especially for a country in which so much violence has been spurred by them, are still significant. The last time Congress repealed a war authorization was in 1971 when it voted to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that provided authority for the Vietnam War.
Ideally, the legislation will continue advancing, be signed by Biden promptly, and even galvanize support to confront the 2001 AUMF. At the same time, it’s already been more than 30 years since the first authorization and it still hasn’t been repealed. Before considering ideal outcomes, pressure will need to be maintained to at least repeal this first pair of authorizations. For now, it’s one bite at a time—it’s just prudent we stay hungry enough to keep going.
The North Dakota Supreme Court has upheld up a decision to temporarily block the state’s near-total abortion ban. The court also stated that residents have a “fundamental right” to abortions that preserve pregnant people’s health.
The majority opinion denied Attorney General Drew Wrigley’s request to remove a temporary injunction against a trigger law that would have enacted the state’s abortion ban after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
In 2007, the state passed a bill that would outlaw abortion within 30 days if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned Roe v. Wade. Last June, the bill was triggered by Dobbs v. Jackson, which indeed overturned the landmark case.
The Red River Women’s Clinic, formerly the state’s only abortion provider, sued Wrigley to stop the ban, claiming that the state’s constitution grants residents the right to an abortion. Last summer, the clinic moved from Fargo, North Dakota, to nearby Minnesota town, Moorhead, where abortion remains legal.
A county judge had temporarily blocked the ban while the case continued. On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the county judge’s injunction.
Wrigley had appealed to the Supreme Court, asking it to remove the injunction, on the grounds that the Red River Women’s Clinic and other plaintiffs “failed to prove they have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits” that they would “suffer irreparable injury,” that there would be “harm to other interested parties,” or that “the effect on the public interest” weighs in favor of a temporary pause on the ban.
The Supreme Court denied Wrigley’s appeal, claiming that, in fact, the clinic did demonstrate “likely success on the merits,” conceding that “there is a fundamental right to an abortion” in “life-saving and health-preserving circumstances.” The Court cited law as far back as 1877 to show precedent for legalized life-preserving abortion, in order to state that, in 2023, people have the right to such a procedure.
This post has been updated.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday slammed the Republican plan for what the United States should do if it hits the debt limit.
The GOP has refused to lift the debt ceiling until major budget cuts are made. Instead, House Republicans introduced a proposal last week that would order the Treasury to prioritize payments on government debt and Social Security should the U.S. reach its debt maximum. Democrats have rejected the measure.
“Our systems are built to pay all of our bills on time and not to pick and choose which bills to pay,” Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee. “There is a reason that treasury secretaries of both parties have rejected this incredibly risky and dangerous idea.”
“I cannot give any assurances about the technical feasibility of such a plan,” she continued. “It would be an exceptionally risky, untested, and radical departure from normal payment practices of agencies across the federal government.”
Republicans have made clear they are willing to hold the debt ceiling hostage in order to cut costs in the federal budget. They proposed another plan last week that would slash funding for student debt relief, climate change policy, and IRS enforcement, among other things.
But Democrats, including President Joe Biden, have said they refuse to compromise on the debt ceiling, setting up a protracted battle. If the debate drags out too long, the United States could be in serious trouble. The government already hit the debt ceiling in January, and Yellen has previously warned the U.S. could default on its debt by the summer if the cap isn’t raised.
“It’s simply a recipe for economic and financial catastrophe to think we can pay some of our bills and not all of them,” Yellen said Thursday.
Maternal mortality in the United States shot up by 40 percent in 2021, one of the worst rates in the country’s history, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. already has the worst maternal mortality rate among developed nations. These are deaths that occur up to 42 days after the end of the pregnancy, according to the World Health Organization.
In 2021, 1,205 people died of “maternal causes” in the U.S., at a rate of 32.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, the CDC report found.
In comparison, 861 people died of maternal causes in 2020, at a rate of 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Things were much worse for Black people, who suffered 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births—nearly triple the rate for white people. From 2018 to 2021, Black people consistently had a much higher rate of maternal mortality than any other ethnic group, the CDC report showed.
The report shows the U.S. actually has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world. Data from the WHO showed that high-income nations had an overall rate of 12 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020, while low-income countries had a rate of 430 deaths per 100,000 live births. Nearly all of these deaths could have been prevented.
The CDC report’s author, Donna Hoyert, warned that it’s hard to compare rates of maternal deaths between countries because of different data-tracking methods. But the U.S. is “usually not faring all that well,” she told NPR.
Hoyert, a scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics, said the rise in maternal deaths could be linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. “We had some forewarning … that it looked like maternal mortality rates were increasing during this pandemic period,” she said, noting that maternal deaths also increased from 2019 to 2020.
She also pointed out that Covid deaths in 2021 shifted to younger people, who are more likely to get pregnant.
Hoyert was optimistic that maternal deaths had peaked in 2021 and were starting to go down, but other health experts worry that there are other circumstances that will make the numbers worse. Hospitals and other health care providers are still struggling with a worker shortage, making it harder for people to get care.
Abortion restrictions that are increasing throughout the country could also increase maternal deaths. These regulations could delay people’s ability to get care for pregnancy complications.
A study released in November by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that if abortion is banned nationwide, maternal mortality will rise 24 percent. Maternal mortality among Black people will shoot up 39 percent. But Republican lawmakers, who insist they are saving lives, continue to introduce bill after bill limiting access to abortion.
“This is going to be one of those moments that goes viral.” Right-wing commentator Bethany Mandel’s clairvoyance proved stronger than her ability to define a word she, in her own words, wrote a whole book chapter on.
Mandel’s comments came Tuesday on Rising, a show hosted by Briahna Joy-Gray and Robby Soave, after Gray asked Mandel to define the word “woke.”
“So, I mean, woke is,” Mandel began. “Sort of the idea that, uh, um … I-,” she continued, conceding the moment’s potential for virality. “Woke is something that’s very hard to define, and we’ve spent an entire chapter defining it,” referring to a book about “the Left and their woke indoctrinators” that she co-wrote.
“It is sort of the understanding that we need to re-, totally reimagine and re-, re-, redo society in order to create hierarchies of oppression,” she said before pausing. “Sorry, it’s hard to explain in a 15-second sound bite,” before Gray assured her she could take her time if she wanted.
The right has come to amorphously attach the word “woke” pejoratively to everything from deregulated collapsing banks and derailing trains and electric stoves to LGBTQ people’s existence and even the cold, hard facts of how Breonna Taylor was killed. In other words, it’s not just an umbrella term for the already hollow, oft-complained-about “political correctness.” It just means “anything I don’t like” (and some of those things might not be things I can say out loud—unless I want to get canceled by the Woke Mob).
This differs greatly from how the term was used in the early twentieth century, as part of the Black struggle and calls for greater political and social consciousness. Since then, the term “staying woke” has come to refer to a broader awareness of one’s place within a system; some people have even used it in humor, joking about “staying woke,” for example, about tongue-in-cheek conspiracy theories.
On Wednesday, after her comments did indeed go viral, Mandel claimed that Gray allegedly made comments “demeaning parents in general in colorful and nasty terms” on a hot mic before the show went to air. Mandel said that as a mother of six, the comments apparently threw her off her game; she noted that this was not an excuse, just a reality of being human.
She went on to finally offer what she considers the “actual definition” of “wokeness” a day after her verbal stumble. “Wokeness,” Mandel claimed, is “a radical belief system suggesting that our institutions are built around discrimination, and claiming that all disparity is a result of that discrimination. It seeks a radical redefinition of society in which equality of group result is the end point, enforced by an angry mob.”
Not only is her definition steeped in right-wing cultural angst, it’s so broad that you wouldn’t be blamed for imagining it could cover other groups, like say the January 6 rioters.
But the issue here is not just about Mandel using “woke” as a catchall term to mean “everything she doesn’t like.” It’s not even that she fumbled with the definition; all people deserve generosity, and by no means should anyone be expected to be perfect all the time.
But Mandel’s self-assurance in offering an “actual definition” of woke falls short of exhibiting any level of humility that would welcome such generosity. Beyond revealing how hollow the right-wing’s deployment of the word “woke” really is, it displays the amount of self-righteousness needed to offer a made-up definition of a word rooted in decades-long Black struggle and used (even as a joke) to mean awareness about anything bigger than oneself.
It’s not just that the modern right uses the term to conceal deeper prejudices or inflammatory beliefs, it’s that the use embodies a deep-seated ego that is difficult to break through. How can someone be genuinely debated when they do not have an ounce of intellectual humility?
Tennessee Representative Andy Ogles appears to have kept money raised through a charitable GoFundMe event, making him the second freshman Republican member of Congress in hot water over dubious fundraising efforts.
An investigation by NewsChannel5 found that Ogles set up a GoFundMe in 2014 after his son was stillborn. Ogles said he wanted to build a garden where families could bury their stillborn children and sit on benches by the gravestones. The GoFundMe raised almost $25,000, but the garden was never built.
GoFundMe confirmed that Ogles received the money. He declined to answer any of NewsChannel5’s questions about what happened to the funds:
“Congressman, this doesn’t have to be a story if you just offer some evidence it went for a good cause,” we told him, as he got into a truck and slammed the door.
Ogles had told The Tennessean in 2015 that “burials are heavily regulated,” preventing them from buying all the plots necessary to start the garden. He promised that none of the money had been spent.
The funeral director of Williamson Memorial Funeral Home was quoted in the same story saying she planned to meet with the Ogles family to help organize their plans. But eight years later, she told NewsChannel5, the family never followed up with her.
One donor, speaking anonymously, said he asked Ogles what happened to the money and, when he didn’t get a clear answer, asked for a refund. This donor got his money back, but others said they were not given the same option.
Ogles is already under fire for appearing to lie about his background. Another NewsChannel5 investigation revealed that although the lawmaker says he studied “policy and economics,” his college transcript shows that Ogles majored in liberal studies and actually failed the one economics class he took.
The Tennessee Republican isn’t the first member of Congress seemingly making up parts of their background. One of George Santos’s many falsehoods is that in May 2016, the New York representative allegedly raised $3,000 for a homeless and disabled veteran’s service dog—only to take the money and run.
Santos also appears to have lied that his mother survived 9/11 (she was not even in the country), that his grandparents fled the Holocaust, and that four of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting, among many, many other examples.
Florida Representative Anna Paulina Luna has also claimed Jewish heritage, but not only does she appear to have no ties to Judaism, her grandfather may have served in the Nazi army.
After a Norfolk Southern derailment crippled East Palestine, Ohio, and after Congress had its first hearing taking the company to task for industry corruption, federal regulators on Wednesday approved the first major U.S. corporate railroad merger in more than two decades: Canadian Pacific’s $31 billion acquisition of Kansas City Southern.
The merger combines the two smallest of the largest railroad companies in the country; the combined duo will now reduce the number of Class I freight railroads from seven down to six. Moreover, the merger of the two will create the only railroad that links Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
Previously, Canadian National railroad had attempted to buy Kansas City Southern for $33.6 billion, but the plan fell through after the Surface Transportation Board rejected part of the merger plan.
While workers and regulators aim to get a hold on a runaway industry driven by a practice known as precision scheduled railroading, or PSR, that has cut jobs and made trains bigger and bigger—thus making the whole industry less safe—it’s worth noting the relevance of this consolidation.
In 2011, billionaire investor Bill Ackman was undergoing a proxy battle with the railroad’s board of directors. He won and installed Hunter Harrison—a railway executive who pioneered PSR at the smaller Illinois Central Railroad—as president and CEO of Canadian Pacific. Once there, he continued his PSR regime, further spurring the industry to be more profit-driven and less safety-oriented.
Now one of the test subjects of PSR becomes another emblem of consolidation, which opponents worry will lead to further job losses and fewer consumer choices in an already consolidated industry.
While proponents say the merger will allow for more shipments and a stronger linkage between the three nations in North America, there’s surely reason for scrutiny. Existing debilitating conditions for workers and a status quo of over 1,000 derailments a year does not offer trust in the industry. A Surface Transportation Board analysis also found that the merger would increase the deployment of longer trains and more tank cars carrying hazardous materials, and even increase the already high risk of train derailments.
There’s also the matter of worker negotiations. Last year, the Biden administration imposed a rail contract on workers that left them with no paid sick leave. On the same day that the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment to add paid sick leave days to the negotiations, Canada announced it would offer 10 days of paid sick leave to workers in the federally regulated private sector—which includes Canadian Pacific. Still, some of their workers are in the United States; now, Canadian Pacific must align with Kansas City Southern on worker benefit and wage packages, negotiating with their respective workforces together.
That the companies will need to navigate aligning how they treat their workers points to the broader issue. While regulators approve such a consequential merger, we have yet to address the current problems that plague the industry and that will only be compounded by the merger: unequal and insufficient worker wages and protections, a too-high risk of derailments, weak classifications of how much regulation should be on trains carrying hazardous materials, and weak safety standards for all trains. It has been barely a month since the East Palestine derailment—and the government appears readier to approve more consolidation than it is to address what led to such a disaster at all.
Texas-based Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk is poised to change the entire market for abortion pills.
Kacsmaryk, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2019, is a known conservative and has a track record of viewing abortion unfavorably. He is currently hearing arguments over whether the Food and Drug Administration improperly approved mifepristone for widespread use more than 20 years ago. Reports from the Wednesday hearing thus far indicate that Kacsmaryk entertained disproven claims that the abortion medication is unsafe.
A coalition of anti-abortion groups and individuals filed the lawsuit in November specifically in Amarillo, Texas. Amarillo is a federal district with a single judge, meaning the plaintiffs could essentially guarantee that Kacsmaryk would hear their case, a practice known as “forum shopping.”
It seems unethical, but it’s a common practice on both sides of the political divide. During the 2017 Senate hearing for his current job, Kacsmaryk promised to be fair and said he didn’t believe judges should impose their religious beliefs on their rulings. But his actions both during and before his judicial career have abortion rights advocates bracing for one of the biggest blows since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Kacsmaryk and his siblings were raised deeply Christian and taught from an early age that abortion was wrong. Over the years, he has published multiple essays arguing against the procedure, including in college, when he described abortion as “the federally sanctioned eradication of innocent human life.”
Kacsmaryk worked for several law firms in the early 2000s and at different divisions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas from 2008 to 2013.
In 2014, he became the deputy general counsel at First Liberty Institute, a conservative legal group that has challenged anti-discrimination laws and birth control coverage. During his time there, Kacsmaryk represented the Christian owners of a bakery in Oregon who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
In commentary and legal briefs, he said same-sex marriage would send the U.S. “on a road to potential tyranny,” and the demand for “so-called marriage equality” was a “complete abuse of rule of law principles.”
Two months before Trump nominated him to the bench, Kacsmaryk met with administration budget officials at the White House to argue that businesses should be allowed to refuse to cover their employees’ contraception based on religious or moral beliefs.
Kacsmaryk also served as a trustee of Christian Homes and Family Services starting in 2014. The group works to dissuade people from getting abortions and instead carry the pregnancy to term and then give the child up for adoption to a Christian family.
Although Kacsmaryk left the organization’s board when he joined the bench in 2019, he and his wife are still donors.
Since assuming his current position, Kacsmaryk has ruled in several high-profile cases, including striking down Biden administration protections for transgender people and forcing thousands of asylum-seekers to return to Mexico while their cases are processed.
Most recently, in December, Kacsmaryk ruled that health clinics that provide birth control to minors violate Texas law and federal constitutional rights, shutting down a crucial channel for reproductive health care in the state.
If he rules that mifepristone was improperly approved, the case will likely be appealed. It could go all the way to the Supreme Court, but the nine justices have already made clear what they think about abortion rights. And it isn’t looking good.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously accepted a draft plan with suggestions on how to pay millions in reparations to the city’s Black residents, in an effort to atone for centuries of slavery and systemic racism.
The case for reparations has been made many times in recent years, particularly after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. California was the first state to establish a task force to determine how to compensate for the legacy of slavery and racist policies made after the practice of enslaving people was abolished, both of which have crippled Black people’s economic mobility.
San Francisco is the first major city to propose a reparations plan, and its draft, put forward in December, is “unmatched nationwide in its specificity and breadth,” as described by the Associated Press. Under the plan, suggestions include giving every eligible Black adult a lump payment of $5 million. Personal debt and tax burdens could be eliminated, annual incomes of at least $97,000 for 250 years could be guaranteed, and families in San Francisco could get a home for just $1. More than 100 recommendations are included in the draft proposal, though no specific plan has been formally accepted yet.
“Those of my constituents who lost their minds about this proposal, it’s not something we’re doing or we would do for other people,” San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said during the five-hour hearing Tuesday night. “It’s something we would do for our future, for everybody’s collective future.”
The plan does not say how much the proposed payments would cost the city, nor is it clear how many San Franciscans would be eligible. Critics argue that it’s unreasonable to pay reparations in a city or state that never enslaved Black people. But advocates of the plan note that the majority of data and historical evidence shows that after slavery ended in 1865, policies and practices across the nation helped curb the rights of Black Americans.
The African American Reparations Advisory Committee, which proposed the plan, has until June to put forward a final report on reparations. Until then, the board of supervisors can approve, change, or reject any or all of the plan’s points.
The California state reparations committee is due to give a final report in July.
Other cities are toying with reparations too. The Chicago suburb of Evanston became the first city to pay for reparations, offering eligible residents funding for home repairs, down payments, and interest or late penalties for property. Experts say Evanston’s approach is a good start but has a ways to go in terms of achieving actual justice.
Leaders in Asheville, North Carolina, have also promised reparations through funding housing, business, and career programs for Black city residents. The City Council in Boston approved a reparations study task force in December.
Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee introduced a bill in 2021 to develop a reparations study task force. President Joe Biden has expressed support for studying reparations, but he has yet to back Lee’s bill, and the issue has yet to be seriously discussed at the federal level.