WATCH: Senator Dick Durbin Destroys Fox News and “Anti-Vaxx Quacks” Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham

Democratic leaders in every state are focused on getting as many people vaccinated as possible. Unfortunately for them, the issue has been deeply politicized.

Viewers of the Fox News network hear conflicting messages about the COVID vaccine on a nightly basis. Of course, they tell you that only Donald Trump should be given credit for the rapid development of the inoculation. At the same time, though, people should be cautious about getting their shot. read more

Dick Durbin on Trump Lawyer: “I Couldn’t Understand His Line of Thinking”

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) remarked in an interview with CNN that he had trouble understanding one of former President Donald Trump’s defense attorneys during the first day of Trump’s impeachment trial.

The attorney, Bruce Castor, drew heavy criticism for a rambling performance that confused even Trump’s allies in the Senate. The New York Times reported that “At times, Mr. Castor appeared to be arguing for Mr. Trump’s free speech rights and against a partisan cycle of impeachments. As the lawyer spoke, senators in the chamber sometimes appeared confused or uninterested.”

To that end, Durbin said he “gave up” trying to understand Castor and follow his train of thought.

“They really expected a spirited defense of the president and that didn’t happen,” Durbin said of Republicans in the Senate. “I wanted to take notes to follow, and I just gave up on Mr. Castor. I couldn’t understand his line of thinking.”

He added that Republicans appeared “disappointed” by Castor’s performance.

“You just can’t expect to stand up in front of a group like that and read for an hour and expect to make an impact,” Durbin said. “I really believe that the House managers did a professional job, the video they played was just an amazing piece of work to start this and the arguments they made were understandable.” 

“I’m not sure where they’re going with this,” he added. “It’s not a very strong position and it’s understandable why they’ve had a very tough time enlisting lawyers to argue it.” 

You can watch Durbin’s interview below.

Republicans "really expected a spirited defense of the [former] President, and it didn't happen," @SenatorDurbin said about day one of the Senate impeachment trial. "I wanted to take notes to follow, and I just gave up on Mr. Castor. I couldn't understand his line of thinking." pic.twitter.com/ZX2DBS4asP read more

Lindsey Graham Refuses Call to Hold Quick Confirmation Hearing for Merrick Garland as AG

Lindsey Graham plans to investigate Obama over Mike Flynn case

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has refused a call to hold a quick confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, who President Joe Biden has nominated to serve as the nation’s attorney general. Garland’s hearing is scheduled for February 8.

Graham says the hearing is designed to “score political points” ahead of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, which is scheduled for February 9. Graham still counts himself among Trump’s most loyal supporters despite the former president’s role in inciting a violent insurrection against Congress last month.

“Your request is highly unusual,” Graham wrote in a letter to incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Monday. “The Senate is about to conduct its first ever impeachment trial of a former president, and only its fourth trial of a president,

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Senators Push For New Immigration Deal to End Shutdown

Several key members of the U.S. Senate have said they want to revive controversial immigration negotiations as a way to end the partial government shutdown, which is now two weeks old.

Congress has been trying — and failing — to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws for many years. Trying to achieve consensus on immigration now, and to pass a bill that President Trump will sign, seems like a very difficult path to follow.

But with Trump and congressional Democrats at a stalemate on the shutdown, making immigration reform part of the negotiations is now being discussed seriously. And those discussions include senators from both parties.

“It’s come back to life again,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, of a potential immigration deal. “We’ll see if it has legs.”

Immigration reform was reportedly discussed during a closed-door meeting at the White House on Wednesday that included Trump, congressional leaders and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who attended the meeting, said the topic was mentioned briefly, “in a bleak way,” and he said he was reluctant to begin negotiations on immigration reform without Trump’s expressed support.

“I’ll tell ya, it’s such a bitter experience a year ago. And I told the president that I had a bitter experience,” he said after the meeting. “We’re not going to jump back in that until there’s a pretty clear public commitment from the president.”

Trying to solve immigration actually could create more obstacles and make resolving the shutdown even more difficult.

Democratic leadership will face intense pressure from the progressive wing of the party to take a tough stance on immigration. Likewise, from the right, Trump is facing great pressure and has shown he is susceptible to criticism when it comes from Fox News or conservative talk radio.

Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, said that expanding the scope of shutdown negotiations could be one way to break the logjam.

“You know, sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to make it bigger, and that’s always one of the options here,” Blunt said.

With no visible progress yet on resolving the border funding, more members of Congress are calling for immigration reform to be tied to the border wall talks.

During a Democratic leadership meeting this week Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) proposed reviving a 2013 immigration bill which included a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented immigrant population as well as $40 billion for border security.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) urged Trump to make a deal on comprehensive immigration reform. He said it could be his “Nixon to China” moment and bring an end to the partial government shutdown.

“Why would he not agree to such a thing?” Alexander said. “We could go small, we could go a little bigger … but I’d like to see the president say, ‘OK, we’ve got a new Congress. We’ve got divided government. I’m the president who can actually make this happen.’”

Other members are suggesting a smaller deal that would focus only  on immigrants who were brought into the United States illegally when they were children.

One approach that may be gaining favor is to include a fix for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. Members of both parties say they are sympathetic to immigrants who entered the country illegally as children. The issue has been put on the back burner while the fate of the DACA program is tied up in court.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) said immigration reform should be on the table after she helped craft a deal last year that included $25 billion for border security in exchange for a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.

“I certainly think it’s worth considering,” Collins said Thursday. “Had the Department of Homeland Security not blasted it the night before, it clearly would have passed with more Republican support. So I do see that as a potential path out of this impasse.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is promoting a measure that would establish a $25 billion border trust fund and codify protections for DACA recipients. He argued on Thursday that it could be a “win-win” for both parties.

New House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appeared to disapprove of linking the border wall fight and DACA recipients, telling reporters that they are “two different subjects.”

And Durbin, who said immigration was “near and dear to my heart,” admitted that Trump has said he supports and could work with Democrats on immigration reform. 

“But he’s said that before,” Durbin noted. “DACA recipients hang on every word. I do not want them to get their hopes up until there’s a clear indication that the president supports this.”

There is no guarantee that a broader

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Dick Durbin May Have Destroyed Kavanaugh’s Nomination With This One Tweet

The number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, sent out a tweet yesterday that may have destroyed Brett Kavanaugh’s chances of being confirmed. In the tweet, Durbin accused Kavanaugh of lying under oath during a Senate hearing.  He also attached a letter he had sent Kavanaugh in 2007 which contains proof that Kavanaugh had lied.

Here’s what Senator Durbin tweeted:

“In 2007 I sent Brett Kavanaugh this letter asking to explain his inaccurate and misleading testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. I’m still waiting for an answer.”

In 2007 I sent Brett Kavanaugh this letter asking to explain his inaccurate and misleading testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. I’m still waiting for an answer. pic.twitter.com/c7XoGJKDSj

— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin)

July 10, 2018 read more

Democrats Are Looking For Ways To Block Senate Recess So Trump Can’t Replace Jeff Sessions

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that Democrats are looking at ways to prevent the Senate from going into full August recess to prevent Trump from replacing Jeff Sessions and stopping the Russia investigation.

Video:

Durbin was asked by Melber how Democrats would stop the Senate from going into full recess. He answered, “We’re exploring the ways right now….I think I’ve told you as much as I can tell you right now, but the idea that this president would use the August recess to stop the investigation into the Russian impact on the election and his campaign is unacceptable.”

If Trump is even thinking about firing Sessions and using a recess appointment to appoint a Rudy Giuliani or Ted Cruz who would kill the Russia investigation by firing special counsel Robert Mueller, he had better think again. Democrats are already three steps ahead of him.

Everybody knows why Trump wants Sessions gone, and Democrats aren’t going to allow the President to close down the Russia investigation by allowing the Senate to leave town. It is not happening, so Trump better think of another plan.

Democrats are going to all they can to keep the Senate in session and teach Trump that no person is above the law.

Chicago Rally Reveals Economic and Human Damage of GOP’s Real Motives and Hypocrisy in ACA Repeal

“What is the best way to decimate a community? Deny its people access to healthcare.”

“What is the best way to decimate a community? Shut down its largest employer.”

These questions were asked and answered by Tim Egan, CEO of Chicago’s Roseland Community Hospital, last Sunday, January 15, as he opened his comments at a rally to defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against the GOP’s ongoing efforts to repeal it. Hosted by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) at its Chicago headquarters, the rally included such heavy-hitting speakers as Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, among others who shared their personal testimonies of how the ACA has literally saved their lives and how its repeal would certainly put their lives in danger.

Egan’s speech was particularly compelling because it highlighted the GOP’s hypocrisy when it comes to both improving the lives of average citizens and fostering fertile conditions for business. The Republicans like to represent themselves as the party with policies that help people by serving the interests of business, believing that policies that facilitate businesses by cutting taxes and eliminating regulations will improve the economy overall and create jobs, thus helping America’s working-class majority, regardless of how low-wage the jobs might be. Speaking as a corporate CEO, though, and not one of the American masses Republicans typically ignore, Egan made plain and clear that from the corporate perspective repealing the ACA would be devastating for business as well as people, threatening the very existence of his hospital, a primary employer in the Roseland community, not to mention millions of lives.

In her comments, Schakowsky emphatically reiterated this reality that GOP policies are neither pro-business nor pro-people, pointing out that if Republicans repeal the ACA, Illinois is projected to lose 117,000 jobs in 2019 and 33 billion dollars in federal funding between 2019 and 2022, a devastating blow to an already faltering Illinois economy Rauner has done nothing positive to improve. Highlighting GOP hypocrisy, Schakowsky called out Illinois Republican Governor for his silence on the issue of the potential ACA repeal and his refusal to speak out against it in defense of the Illinois economy and its citizenry.

So what is the point of Republican policy that seems both economically and humanly destructive? As I have argued previously on the pages of PoliticusUsa regarding the Republicans and Rauner in particular, we need to understand Republican scorched earth policies such as we have seen Rauner’s Illinois, Bobby Jindhal’s Louisiana, Sam Brownback’s Kansas, and Scott Walker’s Wisconsin as not pro-business but pro-wealthy. This distinction is of vital importance if we are to understand the GOP agenda. The Republican project, as I’ve argued, is to re-distribute wealth to the top, acceleratingly so, not to help business and by extension, perhaps, the working-class majority. Egan’s comments make this agenda clear.

Indeed, even the pro-business CNBC website has featured reports underscoring the far-reaching economic devastation and job-loss repealing the ACA would entail. Dan Mangan, for example, reports that according to a study from Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, the repeal of key provisions of the ACA would trigger massive job loss to the tune of potentially three million jobs in healthcare and other sectors as well as a 1.5 trillion reduction in gross state product from 2019 to 2023, triggering also a damaging slump in consumer spending. As Mangan puts it, “Spending less by getting rid of Obamacare could end up costing a whole lot more.”

So what’s the end game for Republicans? Well, according to Tony Nitti in a piece he contributed to Forbes (no left-wing rag), repealing Obamacare would result in an average tax savings of $33,000 for the wealthiest one percent of Americans, while those making between $10,000 and $75,000 would actually see their taxes increase—and millions would lose health insurance or have to pay astronomically more for it, effectively an additional tax increase. The end game is simply to give more to the wealthy, which is not the same thing as helping businesses or improving the health of the economy. (That the House GOP voted to conceal the costs of repealing the ACA from the public arguably underscores the repeal is not economically salubrious for the taxpayers and the nation.)

And the economic and human costs go together. At the Chicago rally, Tracy Trovato told the story of how her husband Carlo was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014. He has been cured after hundreds of thousands of dollars in treatment. Should the cancer return, however, and Obamacare were to be repealed, allowing insurance companies to re-instate lifetime caps on coverage, it is likely Carlo would not be able to afford treatment to save his life, or the Trovato family would endure absolute economic ruin. Trovato’s story makes clear the human and economic costs of repealing the ACA. Her family’s story is not singular but representative, and having widespread bankruptcy is not good for the health of our economy, not to mention our humanity.

We need to see that Obamacare is not a hand-out, but simply sound economic policy that serves both the American people as a whole and American business.

We also need to see that Republicans serve neither but simply want to accelerate the distribution of wealth to a speed that will break all of our necks, those of our working and middle classes and those of the business world.