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Five things to watch for at CPAC

September 26, 2020 | News | No Comments

Conservatives from across the country will meet outside Washington later this week for the right’s premiere annual event: the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

The American Conservative Union’s 45-year-old gathering, which will run from Thursday to Saturday, has long been the biggest game in town for conservatives, bringing thousands of like-minded activists, politicians and strategists all under one roof. 

Now the event’s attendees are looking to grapple with what the conservative agenda should be — and how to achieve those goals in the Trump era.

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Here are five things to watch as CPAC kicks off.

Will CPAC become a rally for the Second Amendment?

CPAC organizers say they’re trying to be respectful of the victims of last week’s deadly high school shooting in Parkland, Fla. But they also know their audience: fervent defenders of the Second Amendment.

Organizers will have to walk a tightrope at this year’s conference, ensuring that gun rights advocates have a platform to voice opposition to gun control even amid a growing national discussion about gun violence. 

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre will speak during the three-day conference, just as he has at every recent CPAC, an NRA spokesman confirmed. 

But CPAC organizers kept LaPierre’s name off the schedule of speakers that was published at the start of the week. While CPAC hasn’t said why, obscuring when he speaks would make it harder for pro-gun control activists to protest the speech. 

It’s unclear at this point when exactly LaPierre will take the stage. But the conference is coinciding with a number of anti-gun violence protests around the country, from Florida to Washington, D.C.

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On Wednesday, high school students in Maryland walked out of class and marched to the U.S. Capitol to demand Congress act on gun control measures.    

Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTim Scott to introduce GOP police reform bill next week House GOP delays police reform bill White House says Trump may issue executive order on police reform MORE (R-N.C.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a CPAC speaker scheduled to take the stage just before President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE, said he believes attendees do want to find ways to stop violence in schools.

“I think the majority of the people I talk to are in a very somber mood and want to take the appropriate actions that will help our students learn in a safe environment,” Meadows told The Hill.

How much will conservatives attack the special counsel investigation?

The CPAC schedule is filled with events aimed at special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN’s Toobin warns McCabe is in ‘perilous condition’ with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill’s 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia. 

There’s a Thursday session titled “What You Don’t Know about the ‘Dirty Dossier,’ Trump, and Russia,” where attendees can hear from conservative writer Steven J. Allen about how the Russia probe “remains unsubstantiated.”

At the “#TrumpedUp: Unmasking the Deep State” panel, conservative pundits including the Washington Examiner’s Byron York and frequent Sean Hannity guest Sara Carter will discuss what they see as a “deep state” — the FBI and other government officials — that they claim is seeking to destroy Trump and his allies.

The panel will be followed by a speech by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSunday shows preview: Protests against George Floyd’s death, police brutality rock the nation for a second week Sunday shows preview: Leaders weigh in as country erupts in protest over George Floyd death The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – George Floyd’s death sparks protests, National Guard activation MORE (R-Calif.), a Trump loyalist whose team authored a now-infamous GOP memo that Democrats view as a blatant effort to undermine Mueller’s Russia probe 

CPAC attendees will also hear from a host of other Trump defenders who’ve railed on cable TV against the Russia probe, including former White House aide Sebastian GorkaSebastian Lukacs GorkaAppeals court blocks White House from suspending reporter Sunday shows preview: As states loosen social distancing restrictions, lawmakers address dwindling state budgets FBI director in ‘hot seat’ as GOP demands reforms MORE, Eric TrumpEric Frederick TrumpLara Trump: Twitter no longer ‘a platform for free speech’ Trump DC hotel did not request rent relief from GSA The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug MORE, and prominent conservative media figures Hannity and Mark Levin.  

Judge Jeanine Pirro, a close Trump friend who’s used her show on Fox News to attack Mueller, will be the keynote speaker during the Ronald Reagan Dinner on Saturday night. 

“Robert Mueller is looking for people with an agenda against Donald Trump. Robert Mueller is the person who should be being investigated,” Pirro told Hannity last week on Fox.

What do conservatives want to see in the midterm elections?

Uncertainty about the 2018 midterms will hang over CPAC, with total Republican control of Congress on the line in November.

Republicans need to maximize turnout among their activist base in the fall if they’re going to keep up with a newly energized Democratic grass roots. But the party also needs to find a way to shore up its standing with independents, who polls show have been turned off by Trump and the GOP legislative agenda. 

Expect a healthy dose of praise at CPAC for the GOP’s recent tax-reform plan. Republicans believe that legislation holds the ticket to stemming any anti-Trump exodus from the party and keeping moderates who see their paychecks going up on their side.

The main stage at CPAC will include a panel titled “One Man’s ‘Crumbs,’” a reference to House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Pelosi: Georgia primary ‘disgrace’ could preview an election debacle in November MORE’s (D-Calif.) claim that the tax law only provides the middle class with “crumbs” when compared to its benefits for the wealthy and big businesses. Republicans have been eager to seize on the “crumbs” remark as proof that Pelosi and other Democrats are out of touch. 

Additional CPAC events emphasize other Trump administration decisions that conservatives believe aren’t getting enough play in the news — including government regulation cuts and the overhaul of the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules. 

Will anyone criticize Trump?

The battle for the Republican Party has continued into the Trump presidency, prompting sharp comments and even retirements fromTrump critics in Congress.

But that dynamic is unlikely to be on display at CPAC, where it’s clear that the GOP is Trump’s party.

After being booed at CPAC in 2015, Trump skipped the event in 2016, only to return to applause shortly after his inauguration in 2017.

Expect the pro-Trump feeling to continue this year. Several events celebrate Trump’s impact on the GOP, including panels like “The Trump Effect on American Politics” with Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany and “We Refuse to be Suckers: The New Trump Doctrine.”

Along with speeches from Trump and Vice President Pence, the White House will also send a handful of top aides. White House counsel Don McGahn and White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayGeorge Conway group hits Ernst in new ad George Conway group contrasts Trump, Eisenhower in battleground states ad Sunday shows preview: Protests against George Floyd’s death, police brutality rock the nation for a second week MORE are both scheduled to speak, as are four Cabinet members.

But while the CPAC speaker’s list is filled with Trump loyalists, a speaker or two could still criticize the president. 

How does CPAC react to far-right French politician Marion Maréchal-Le Pen?

The most interesting news around CPAC often surrounds who’s invited — and who’s not. 

Religious conservatives and gay Republicans once regularly clashed over whether gay GOP groups should be invited, while conservative British provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos lost a planned CPAC keynote last year after some apparently positive comments about pedophilia from Yiannopoulos resurfaced.

This year, an appearance by French politician Marion Maréchal-Le Pen has sparked outcry. 

Maréchal-Le Pen is the granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the hard-right French nationalist party National Front.

Le Pen and his family became one of the most polarizing figures in French politics for his party’s platform and for comments questioning the Holocaust and disparaging Muslims. More recently, Maréchal-Le Pen’s aunt Marine Le Pen came in second in a bid as the National Front’s candidate for the French presidency.

Prominent establishment conservative have bristled at Maréchal-Le Pen’s inclusion, arguing that her identification with the party and her family history sends the wrong message.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor at National Review, questioned on Twitter whether she’s a “National Front Kardashian with better messaging.”

But Matt Schlapp, whose organization runs CPAC, has defended Maréchal-Le Pen, arguing on Twitter that she “has moved away from the politics of her forebearers.”

The Texas Democrat who was targeted by the House Democrats’ campaign arm is projected to advance to a primary runoff in the race to unseat Rep. John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonBottom line Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm Bottom line MORE (R-Texas). 

Laura Moser, a journalist and activist, will run against lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in the May 22 runoff, since none of the seven Democratic candidates was able to get a majority of the vote. Fletcher came in first but failed to win enough votes to avert a runoff, while Moser came in second.

The Associated Press projected Fletcher to finish in the top spot Tuesday evening, while it waited to make the call on Moser until past midnight. As of 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Fletcher had 29 percent of the vote to Moser’s 24 percent. 

Moser’s advancement to the runoff comes despite a controversial attack by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) against her.

In a surprising move, the DCCC published opposition research about Moser that focuses on concerns about her residency and claims that her husband’s company unfairly benefited from her campaign. 

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The research dump included a Washingtonian magazine story she wrote in 2014 that said she’d rather “have my teeth pulled out without anesthesia” than live in Paris, Texas — a small city more than 300 miles away from the Houston district where she’s running. It also noted that her campaign paid $50,000 to Revolution Messaging, a D.C.-based consulting firm where her husband works.

The committee believes that disqualifies her as a general election candidate and would cripple a potential campaign against Culberson. He’s represented the Houston-area seat since 2001, but Democrats are targeting his district after Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE narrowly won it in 2016.

Fletcher, a longtime volunteer for Planned Parenthood, was backed by the Houston Chronicle editorial board, which referred to her as one of the party’s best shots at winning the general election.

The episode has infuriated progressive groups that believe the DCCC targeted Moser to stymie a progressive candidate, reopening the national divide between the two wings of the Democratic Party.

Even some national party leaders have questioned the DCCC’s move. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s ‘wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE said that he “wouldn’t have” attacked Moser and the party should instead focus on the issues. 

But some argue that a more moderate candidate raises Democrats’ prospects in toppling Culberson. And when the Houston Chronicle endorsed two other candidates in the race, the editorial board cautioned that while Moser has an energetic base, “even Democrats who like her question whether she’s too liberal to win this historically Republican district.”

The DCCC has left the door open to getting involved in other crowded primaries, particularly in California. But Moser’s ability to score a runoff spot and the backlash from progressives could send a warning sign to the campaign committee about future involvement in primaries.

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Every Republican House member from New Jersey is in danger of losing their seat in this year’s midterm elections, according to a new Monmouth University poll.

The survey released on Monday finds Democrats with a 19-point advantage statewide on the generic ballot, with 54 percent of respondents saying they plan to or are leaning toward voting for Democrats, compared to only 34 percent for Republicans.

Monmouth pollers say this puts all five of New Jersey’s GOP-held seats at risk.

ADVERTISEMENT“This is pretty astounding. Not only are New Jersey Democrats doing better on the generic House ballot statewide, but the shift is coming almost entirely from districts currently held by the GOP,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “If these results hold, we could be down to just one or two — or maybe even zero — Republican members in the state congressional delegation after November.”

The poll notes that in the five districts currently represented by Republicans, 46 percent of voters back the Republican candidate while 44 percent back the Democratic one.

However, in the past two elections, these districts averaged a 22-point advantage for Republicans.

In contrast, 59 percent of voters in the seven districts currently represented by Democrats support Democratic candidates. Only 28 percent back GOP ones.

New Jersey residents’ negative view of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE is seen as the main factor for these results, according to the poll, and the Republican tax law is another potential cause.

Only 35 percent of New Jersey residents approve of the law and 46 percent disapprove, according to Monmouth University. Nearly half of New Jersey residents believe their taxes will go up because of the law, and only 19 percent think they will go down.

The poll was conducted from April 6 to 10 among 632 voters and has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.

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With his failure to provide relief after Hurricane Maria looking increasingly like George W. Bush’s too-little and too-late response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, President Donald Trump’s critics are denouncing his most recent tweets on the situation in Puerto Rico, where more than three million American citizens are without electricity and the humanitarian crisis continues to worsen.

After spending the weekend attacking NFL players for protesting racial inequality and police brutality, the president posted three tweets about Puerto Rico on Monday night—assuring that the situation is under control while suggesting that the U.S. is limited in the help it can offer because of the island territory’s debts.

Contrary to Trump’s statement, the island is not “doing well” in terms of the food and water that’s been made available to it thus far. Though the federal response was ramped up on Monday, with FEMA administrator Brock Long traveling to Puerto Rico to assess the vast damage, Phillip Carter of the Center for a New American Security called the relief efforts “anemic” in an article at Slate.

While Puerto Ricans grapple with a badly damaged agricultural sector, eliminating a major food source; long lines for fuel, a dwindling resource; and the possibility of electricity remaining out for no less than a month and possibly six months, the mayor of San Juan sharply rebuked Trump for bringing up the territory’s debts.

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“Make no mistake, there is a humanitarian crisis,” said Carmen Yulin Cruz on CNN on Tuesday morning. “There are thousands and thousands of people going back to their homes to find out they don’t have a home to go back to. You don’t put debt above people, you put people above debt.”

Cruz was joined by other critics who expressed shock that Trump would suggest the territory’s debts need to be paid while 40 percent of residents are without clean water.

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Puerto Rico is indeed deeply in debt—but as Juan Cole wrote, there is actually a set of policies that Trump and other lawmakers could push in this moment to  to both alleviate the economic burdens and put Puerto Rico on a fast track to recover:

 

Adding to the discrepancy between the Trump administration’s support of Texas and Florida following their recent hurricanes, and the slow response to Puerto Rico’s situation, is the territory’s lack of representation in the U.S. government. The territory does not have any senators or House members, making it difficult to secure the kind of funding granted to states. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, but a poll released on Tuesday by Morning Consult found that only 54 percent of Americans are aware of this.

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Climate advocacy groups pledged to fight back against the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday after EPA head Scott Pruitt announced, after much speculation, that he would repeal the Obama-era Clean Power Plan—while state and local leaders said they would move forward with plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions even as the Trump administration abandons the EPA’s core mission.

The Natural Resources Defense Council vowed to wage a legal fight to protect the rule, which President Barack Obama passed in 2015 with the goal of significantly reducing carbon emissions by 2030.

“Rolling back the Clean Power Plan has been part of Pruitt’s agenda since well before he was approved to run the EPA,” said 350.org executive director May Boeve. “Slashing climate policy is par for the course in the Trump administration, but we won’t let it go unchallenged. This decision will be fought in the courts and in the streets. It will be up to people all across the country to do what the White House won’t: shut down polluting fossil fuel projects and move our communities to 100% renewable energy for all.”

Jamie Henn, 350.org’s co-founder, reminded his Twitter followers of research that has shown the Clean Power Plan to be a life-saving law, preventing more than 1,000 heart attacks and illnesses per year by limiting air pollution.

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A group representing 400,000 medical professionals agreed. “A decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan is a choice that puts American lives at greater risk from unhealthy air and the health harms from climate change,” said the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health after Pruitt announced his decision.

As Axios reported, the EPA may open a public comment period asking Americans about a potential new rule to limit carbon emissions—a move that would delay “any action toward a carbon rule by several months if not a year or more.”

Despite the EPA’s decision under Trump, Bruce Ho of the NRDC said that the governors of the nine states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will continue to cut emissions at their states’ power plants by 30 percent by 2030—building on the Initiative’s achievement of cutting emissions to 79.2 million tons last year—already reaching their earlier 2030 target.

“Pruitt’s attempt is the latest in the Trump administration’s dangerous campaign of climate change denial, and is a wake-up call for state and local leaders: if you want to protect your citizens, it’s time to take action yourselves because the Trump-Pruitt EPA has shown it’s more interested in protecting polluters than the health of Americans,” wrote Ho in a Monday blog post.

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The Union of Concerned Scientists (USC) added that with President Donald Trump’s earlier decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries, the EPA’s move further isolates the U.S. while countries like China move away from a reliance on oil and gas.

“Instead of addressing one of the most significant problems facing mankind, the administration thumbed its nose at science, and now at the law,” said Ken Kimmel, president of the USC. “Rather than positioning America in the global clean energy marketplace, the administration will stand on the sidelines.”

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As reproductive rights advocates rallied outside the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday morning in support of an undocumented 17-year-old seeking an abortion, an ACLU attorney attended a federal court hearing on the teenager’s behalf to challenge attempts by Trump administration officials to prevent her from terminating her pregnancy.

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on the grounds that a policy established by the Trump administration’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that effectively bars undocumented minors in federal custody from accessing abortion is unconstitutional.

Three weeks after the teenager from Central America, referred to only as Jane Doe, was initially scheduled to visit an abortion provider in Texas—after receiving a waiver from a state court, which is required because she is a minor—a D.C. District Court judge on Wednesday ruled that she must be allowed to have the procedure.

However, the federal government—which claims it is posing no undue burden on the teen by blocking her attempts to abort her pregnancy—immediately filed an appeal, prompting the D.C. Circuit Court to issue an administrative stay on Thursday. The decision temporarily delayed Jane Doe’s abortion, which had been rescheduled for Friday, Oct. 20.

Instead, on Friday morning, the appeals court—reportedly for the first time—allowed audio of the hearing to be livestreamed online. As ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri explained to the court why the government’s actions have violated the teen’s constitutional rights, the group summarized the arguments on Twitter.

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After the hearing, Amiri told NBC‘s Charlie Gile: “It’s blatantly unconstitutional what the government is doing to Jane Doe. They are holding her hostage and preventing her from having an abortion—and also, the harm to her is so great, and the harm to the government is nonexistent.”

Reporters and pro-choice advocates who listened in highlighted flaws in arguments made by the government attorney.

Advocates also pointed to the case as an example of the Trump administration’s broader efforts to limit women’s healthcare, particularly access to reproductive care.

“What this administration is doing to Jane is what they’d do to every woman in this country if they could,” said writer and women’s advocate Sarah Lipton-Lubet. “This is true 100%,” Arimi responded, following the hearing.

While Jane Doe remains approximately 15 weeks pregnant (Texas bans abortion after 20 weeks), the Circuit Court has yet to issue a final ruling on the case.

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With their passage of a deeply unpopular $1.5 trillion tax cut bill on Thursday, House Republicans did their part in “paving the way for the greatest transfer of wealth from regular people to the super-rich in modern American history,”—a move that sparked a flood of outrage from progressive activists and lawmakers who vowed to mobilize and do everything in their power to “kill the bill.”

“The grassroots resistance they’re about to experience will be just as intense as the tidal wave of opposition that repeatedly stopped the zombie Trumpcare bill.”
—Murshed Zaheed, CREDO”If we are going to stop Republicans from taking healthcare from millions and slashing Medicare to give tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations, now is the time to stand up and fight back,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a call to action that was echoed by many of the progressive groups that played a significant role in the fight against Trumpcare.

Now that the House bill has passed, “the fight now turns to the Senate, where the Trump tax scam has always faced much tougher odds,” noted CREDO political director Murshed Zaheed said in a statement.

As Common Dreams reported on Tuesday, Senate Republicans crammed a provision into their own tax bill that would strip healthcare from 13 million Americans—a fact opposition groups have used in recent days in an effort to galvanize grassroots forces.

“It is no surprise that Trump’s lapdogs in the Senate want to use the Trump tax scam to try to gut healthcare for millions of Americans,” Zaheed said, “but the grassroots resistance they’re about to experience will be just as intense as the tidal wave of opposition that repeatedly stopped the zombie Trumpcare bill. If the Senate manages to pass the Trump tax scam despite massive public opposition, we suspect many senators will come to regret it next year.”

Just ahead of the House vote on Thursday, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released an analysis that dealt yet another blow to the GOP’s insistence that their plan is primarily focused on providing relief to middle- and working-class Americans.

The Senate GOP plan—expected to hit the floor for a vote before Thanksgiving next week—will raise taxes on low-income Americans beginning in 2021, JCT found. More broadly, the Senate plan would sharply hike taxes on millions of families that earn less than $75,000 a year beginning in 2027.

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Citing these numbers, the Washington Post‘s Paul Waldman wrote, “If you’re one of those white working-class voters who propelled Donald Trump into the presidency and gave Republicans total control of Washington, the GOP has a message for you: Sucker!”

By contrast, the wealthiest Americans—including President Donald Trump and his family—stand to gain massively from both the House and Senate plans. According to an NBC analysis published Thursday, Trump and his heirs would save more than a billion dollars if the House measure became law.

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“The tax plan passed today by the House of Representatives is a flat giveaway to America’s richest households and corporations,” argued Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute in a statement. “Most of the same people who cast this vote to deprive the government of tax revenue will now cynically pivot and start wringing their hands about the federal budget deficit, arguing that vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid must be slashed.”

“Disgusting,” concluded Fight for $15 on Twitter, “but the fight isn’t over. This is one of the worst pieces of legislation in history. Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO!”

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Just days before world leaders are set to gather in Bonn, Germany for the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23), tens of thousands of activists from across the globe kicked off a series of planned actions on Saturday by taking to the streets to demand an end to coal, denounce U.S. President Donald Trump’s climate denial, and highlight the necessity of moving toward 100 percent renewable energy as quickly as possible.

“This is a pivotal moment for global efforts to combat climate change,” 350.org, which helped organize the events set to take place through next week, noted in a statement. “Countries will either succumb to the forces of denial, like the Trump administration, or move ahead to a clean energy future that works for all.”

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The stated aim of the COP23 talks—this year presided over by Fiji—is to “advance the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement and achieve progress on its implementation guidelines.”

But Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement casts a “dark shadow” over the negotiations. As the New York Times reported Thursday, the Trump administration will attempt to use COP23 as a platform to “promote coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy” and argue that fossil fuels should “continue to play a central role in the energy mix”—despite the fact that the U.S. government’s own climate assessment, unveiled Friday, links fossil fuels to the warming of the climate.

So while Trump and his allies are “twisting themselves into pretzels to justify blocking national and international climate action,” environmentalists are working to place pressure on world leaders to forge ahead with ambitious goals that place people and the planet over the interests of oil giants.

“The wildfires, hurricanes and floods of these last few months show us that we don’t have time to play games of climate denial or greenwashing of dirty energy,” Cindy Wiesner, executive director of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, said in a statement. “COP23 is an opportunity for world leaders to catch up to the solutions already coming from communities on the ground.”

“Countries will either succumb to the forces of denial, like the Trump administration, or move ahead to a clean energy future that works for all.” 
—350.org

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With the small island nation Fiji presiding over the talks, particular attention is being drawn to the Pacific Island nations that are severely threatened by the extreme weather that results from climate change. Throughout COP23, Pacific Climate Warriors will demand that world leaders “kick the big polluters out of the climate talks,” “end the era of fossil fuels,” and “move to 100% renewable energy.”

“Putting a stop to coal and other forms of dirty energy is crucial in addressing the global climate emergency,” concluded Karin Nansen, chair of Friends of the Earth International. “We urge developed country governments to stop exploiting dirty energy now and to stop financing dirty energy projects at home and in developing countries.”

 

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After President Donald Trump’s March for Life speech on Friday, in which he called for a nationwide 20-week abortion ban and touted his administration’s efforts to roll back reproductive rights and discrimination prevention measures in the euphemistic name of “religious liberty,” critics denounced Trump and Republicans for pushing an anti-child agenda.

In response to the president’s proclamations that he values children, reproductive rights advocates decried failures by the Republican-led Congress to approve long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as well as moves by Trump and GOP lawmakers to use recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as “bargaining chips” in legislative battles over immigration policy. 

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Introduced by Vice President Mike Pence as “the most pro-life president in American history,” Trump called on the Senate to pass a bill “misleadingly labeled as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which cleared the House in October. Advocates for reproductive rights have said the proposal is unpopular and unconstitutional, and would mostly notably impact low-income women of color. 

Trump also attacked the landmark Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling for enabling “permissive abortion laws,” and bragged about various ways his administration and Republicans in Congress have worked to limit access to reproductive care since he took office one year ago. 

As the president noted:

Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president, said the move to allow states to withhold funding makes the Trump-Pence agenda “crystal clear.”

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Brussels risks another shot at EU migration reform

September 25, 2020 | News | No Comments

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Are you a government that doesn’t want to take in asylum seekers who arrived in another EU country?

The European Commission has a proposal for you: You can help that country send home migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected instead.

This “sponsorship” scheme is among measures expected to feature in the Commission’s much-postponed migration reform plan, due to be presented on Wednesday, as Brussels ventures once more into one of the most sensitive policy issues in Europe — an issue that exposed deep divisions among EU countries in the crisis of 2015 and 2016.

This time around, the Commission is hoping it has found a formula with a so-called Migration Pact that will allow every country to claim victory. From Hungary to Italy, from Greece to Poland “they all should see their redlines” respected, said an EU official.

Among other planned features of the package is an effort to return more irregular migrants to their homeland, in part by appointing an EU coordinator for such returns. Returns have been a consistent problem for EU countries. In 2018, only 36 percent of those ordered to leave because their asylum application had been rejected had actually done so.

The Commission is also expected to propose beefed-up screening for new arrivals at the EU’s borders. And it will propose additional help for countries where many migrants first set foot on EU soil, which have long complained that they do not see enough solidarity from the EU and other member states.

Such countries — and others, such as Germany, which are the intended destination for many refugees and migrants — have insisted on a mandatory relocation scheme, under which asylum seekers would be distributed around the bloc. Such a scheme was at the heart of fierce disagreements during the last migration crisis, as Central and Eastern European governments flatly refused to take part in it.

The Commission’s new plan is an attempt to present new ideas while accepting that the faultlines among EU governments have barely changed since the crisis — as highlighted by three documents published by POLITICO in June. The papers, revealing the positions of various groups of governments, showed camps deeply entrenched in their respective views.

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The new pact “is not about a binary choice between solidarity and responsibility, or between voluntary and mandatory relocation — we don’t want to pick up from where the discussion in 2015 left off,” the EU official said.

An obligation to take part in a solidarity scheme will be part of the proposal. That chimes with repeated comments by the two commissioners with responsibility for migration — Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson and Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas — who have insisted that solidarity cannot be optional for EU members.

But that obligation will also come with options. That’s where the sponsorship scheme comes in. Instead of taking in a specific number of relocated asylum seekers, member states could instead help another country to return the equivalent number of irregular migrants to their home country.

A country that decides to sponsor returns would have eight months to implement them, and it would even be able to decide which nationality of migrants it wants to try to return. But if it fails to implement the returns, it would have to take in refugees instead — and it would not have a choice when it comes to their nationality.

The Commission also plans a revamp of the so-called Dublin regulation, under which the EU country in which an asylum seeker first arrives is responsible for processing that person’s asylum claim. While retaining that fundamental idea is expected to be among the possible options, the Commission is set to propose expanding the opportunities for asylum seekers with ties to other countries to get those countries to process their claims.

Once the Commission has set out its new plans — expected to take the form of 10 proposals, some of them for new legislation — its fate will be in the hands of EU member countries, with much at stake.

Schinas has warned multiple times that “Europe cannot allow itself to fail twice on migration.” The repercussions of failure last time included a surge in support for populists and the far right.

If this effort fails, a third attempt is unlikely — at least for some time to come. And when it comes, it may be a plan among Western European countries, exacerbating divisions in the EU with Central and Eastern Europe.

Such a failure would also leave Europe without a common policy on migration and a functioning asylum system when the number of people forcibly displaced due to war, persecution and human rights violations was 79.5 million last year, the highest number on record and almost 15 million more than in 2015.