Punchbowl News has gotten their hands on an invitation to join the America First Caucus, led by arch-conservative conspiracists, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Congressman Paul Gosar. According to Punchbowl, they have been recruiting members based on a common respect for “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” as well as an appreciation of infrastructure that “befits the progeny of European architecture.”
According to Punchbowl, the caucus’s immigration platform states: “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”
It continues: “History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country. While certain economic and financial interest groups benefit immensely from mass immigration, legal as well as illegal, and the aggregate output of the country increases, the reality of large segments of our society [,] as well as the long-term existential future of America as a unique country with a unique culture and a unique identity being put at unnecessary risk [,] is something our leaders can afford to ignore no longer.”
The language is shockingly nativist, even for two members of Congress who have long records of spreading racist and anti-immigrant sentiment.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has arrived at the White House, the president’s first in-person visit with a foreign leader since taking office. Biden and Suga will hold a joint press conference later this afternoon.
A heavy metal guitarist and founding member of the Oath Keepers became the first defendant to plead guilty to federal charges related to the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol.
The decision comes exactly 100 days after a mob loyal to Donald Trump stormed the building in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election.
According to the Associated Press, Jon Ryan Schaffer “has agreed to cooperate with investigators in hopes of getting a lighter sentence, and the Justice Department will consider putting Schaffer in the federal witness security program.”
Schaffer stands accused of storming the Capitol and spraying police officers with bear spray. He agreed to plead guilty to two felony charges, according to the AP: obstruction of an official proceeding, and entering and remaining in a restricted building with a dangerous or deadly weapon.
The agency writes that the agreement is a sign that federal prosecutors view him as a “valuable cooperator” in their sprawling domestic terrorism investigation.
Biden reportedly signed an emergency determination that will speed up refugee admissions but not raise the historically low cap set by the Trump administration, as he had previously agreed to do.
According to CNN, the administration intends to keep the number at 15,000, reversing an earlier commitment to welcome more than 60,000 people fleeing violence and persecution around the globe.
The new determination adjusts the allocation limits set by Trump to allow more spots for refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Central America, per the Associated Press. It also lifts restrictions on refugee resettlements from Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
Both the New York Times and CNN cited the influx of migrants at the border as a reason for the administration’s reluctance to raise the cap. But the reports note that the systems for processing refugees overseas and asylum seekers at the US border are separate, and adjusting one would not necessarily affect the other.
The delay in officially designating the refugee admissions has already left hundreds of refugees cleared to travel to the United State stranded in camps around the world and infuriated resettlement agencies that accused Mr. Biden of breaking an earlier promise to restore the American reputation as a sanctuary for the oppressed,” the Times reports.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Joe Biden said gun violence “pierces the very soul of our nation” in the wake of last night’s mass shooting in Indianapolis. Mourning the eight people killed in the attack, the president said in a statement, “Gun violence is an epidemic in America. But we should not accept it. We must act.”
- Biden will soon meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, marking his first in-person visit with a foreign leader since becoming president. Vice-President Kamala Harris met with Suga moments ago, and she emphasized the US and Japan’s “mutual commitment to the Indo Pacific,” as well as the “importance of peace and prosperity in that region of the world”.
- The pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will remain in effect for at least another week. At today’s White House coronavirus briefing, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency’s vaccine advisory panel will not meet again to discuss the J&J vaccine until next Friday, meaning the pause will remain in effect at least until then.
My Guardian colleague, Lauren Gambino, will take over the blog for the next few hours. She will have more updates on the news of the day in Washington, so stay tuned.
Joe Biden will likely be asked about the Indianapolis shooting when he holds a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga later this afternoon.
The president has repeatedly called on the Senate to pass the two background checks bills approved by the House last month, but Democrats likely cannot do so with the filibuster in place.
Some Republicans, namely Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, have voiced openness to a more narrow background checks bill than the legislation passed by the House.
But for now, it’s very unclear whether the evenly divided Senate will be able to approve any gun control bills, even as the number of deadly mass shootings in the US continues to rise.
Joe Biden has released a statement mourning the deaths of the eight people killed in the Indianapolis mass shooting last night.
The president noted the Indianapolis attack is “just the latest in a string of tragedies,” following recent mass shootings in Rock Hill, South Carolina; Boulder, Colorado; and Atlanta, Georgia.
“While we await critical details about the shooting, its motivation, and other key information, once again, I have the solemn duty of ordering the flag lowered at half-staff at the White House, public buildings and grounds, and military posts and embassies, just two weeks after I gave the last such order,” Biden said.
The president expressed his condolences to the families of eight victims, who had to wait hours for the deaths of their loved ones to be confirmed by authorities.
“What a cruel wait and fate that has become too normal and happens every day somewhere in our nation,” Biden said.
The president once again called on Congress to take action to address gun violence. Last week, Biden also signed a series of executive orders aimed at regulating unregistered firearms and gun accessories that functionally transform pistols into rifles.
“Gun violence is an epidemic in America. But we should not accept it. We must act,” Biden said.
“Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence. It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation. We can, and must, do more to act and to save lives.”
Joe Biden will soon make an announcement on refugee caps, the White House press secretary said during her briefing today.
“I expect we’ll have some more news on this today,” Jen Psaki said. “So stay tuned.”
Psaki’s comments come amid reports that Biden has been resistant to raising the refugee caps, which Donald Trump brought to record lows, due to concerns about political optics.
The President’s hesitation comes as the administration faces heat from Republicans and Democrats for its handling of an influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border. But the situation at the US southern border is separate from the refugee program, which dates back decades and has a thorough vetting process in place for refugees overseas to resettle in the US.
One Democratic aide described what is unfolding as ‘vintage Biden’ in terms of preserving his options so that he can maintain decision-making space for the one that best suits him politically.
Democratic lawmakers and advocates, frustrated with the delay, have tried to seek answers from the administration but have fallen short. When asked by reporters about next steps, administration officials haven’t provided clarity, instead maintaining that the President is committed to the issue. Last week, [Psaki] said Biden was committed to raising the refugee ceiling to 62,500 this fiscal year but she didn’t provide a timeline.
Vice-President Kamala Harris met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga moments ago, ahead of Joe Biden’s meeting with the foreign leader.
“The president and I are very excited about the conversations we will have with the prime minister today,” Harris said, per a pool report.
The vice-president emphasized the US and Japan’s “mutual commitment to the Indo Pacific” and the “importance of peace and prosperity in that region of the world”.
Speaking through a translator, Suga expressed his “sincere gratitude” for the invitation to the White House and stressed the importance of the US-Japanese alliance.
Harris was also asked about the shooting in Indianapolis, which claimed the lives of eight people.
“Yet again we have families in America that are grieving the loss of their family members because of gun violence,” the vice-president said. “There is no question this violence must end, and we are thinking of the families that lost their loved ones.”
Harris noted Biden will soon address the shooting, and the president will also likely be asked about the attack during his joint press conference with Suga later today.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer offered his condolences to the families of the eight victims of the Indianapolis shooting.
“We grieve with the people of Indianapolis. My heart goes out to the families of the 8 people who were killed and to the survivors,” the Democratic leader said on Twitter.
Schumer also pledged to “bring legislation to prevent gun violence to the Senate floor for a vote” in the wake of the Indianapolis shooting, which comes on the heels of mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder.
Joe Biden has called on the Senate to pass the two background checks bills approved by the House last month, but Democrats currently do not have the votes to overcome Republican filibusters of the proposals.
The president is expected to soon release a statement on the Indianapolis shooting, and he will likely reiterate those calls for congressional action.