SCHUMER SETS WEDNESDAY VOTE TO BEGIN INFRASTRUCTURE DEBATE, GOP THREATENS TO BLOCK: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer yesterday (July 19th) set a vote for Wednesday (July 21st) to begin debate on bipartisan infrastructure legislation that members from both parties have been negotiating for several weeks. Schumer said yesterday, “They have been working on this bipartisan framework for a month already. It’s time to begin the debate.” However, Senate Republicans are threatening to use the filibuster to block allowing debate to begin unless the agreement is finalized by then. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “We need to see the bill before voting to go to it. I think that’s pretty easily understood.”
MCCARTHY PROPOSES FIVE REPUBLICANS FOR HOUSE’S JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has selected five Republicans for the House’s new select committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, indicating the GOP intends to participate even though they opposed the creation of the committee. The members chosen are Rep. Jim Banks, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. Rodney Davis, Rep. Kelly Armstrong and Rep. Troy Nehls. However, Speaker Nancy Pelosi must give her approval for the names. Pelosi named eight members of the committee earlier this month, seven Democrats and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney.
FIRST SENTENCE GIVEN FOR FELONY CHARGE IN JANUARY 6TH CAPITOL ATTACK: A 38-year-old Florida man who went onto the Senate floor during the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol while carrying a Trump campaign flag was sentenced to eight months behind bars yesterday (July 19th) in the first punishment for a January 6th felony charge. U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss said in sentencing Paul Allard Hodgkins, “That was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a protest. It was . . . an assault on democracy.” However, Moss imposed a lower sentence than the 18 months requested by prosecutors, in part because Hodgkins didn’t assault anyone, didn’t damage government property, and wasn’t among the lead attackers. Hodgkins, who pled guilty last month to obstructing an official proceeding, apologized to the court, and said he felt ashamed of his actions. More than 500 people have been charged so far for their participation in the attack.
2,500 AFGHANS WHO HELPED U.S. TO BE BROUGHT TO VIRGINIA MILITARY BASE: The Biden administration said Monday (July 19th) that some 2,500 Afghans who worked for the U.S. government during the long war in Afghanistan, many of them translators, and their family members will be evacuated to the Fort Lee military base in Virginia pending approval of their visas. As the U.S. moves to complete it withdrawal from Afghanistan, there has been concern about the fate of Afghans who worked for the U.S. over the past two decades of the war, particularly because the Taliban has been seizing control of major parts of the country. Some of them have faced threats from the Taliban. The group, who will be brought to Fort Lee starting next week, include 700 Afghans who worked for the U.S. and some 1,800 family members. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said they are expected to stay there for only a few days before being resettled by the State Department and refugee assistance groups. Another 4,000 applicants and family members who have finished most of the visa application process will be sent to non-U.S. locations to wait for it to be completed.
GITMO DETAINEE SENT HOME TO MOROCCO: Guantanamo Bay detainee Abdullatif Nasser was sent home to Morocco yesterday (July 19th), after he’d been held without charge almost since the facility opened 19 years ago. The transfer was the first of a Gitmo detainee by the Biden administration. A review board had recommended that Nasser be returned home in July 2016, but he had remained under former President Donald Trump, who was opposed to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention site. In announcing the transfer yesterday, the Pentagon cited the board’s determination that Nasser’s detention is no longer necessary to protect U.S. national security. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was considering all options for safely transferring out the last detainees, a few dozen of whom are left, and shutting down Gitmo.
DOW JONES FALLS MORE THAN 700 POINTS AMID DELTA VARIANT FEARS: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 725 points on Monday (July 19th), or 2.1 percent, its biggest drop since a 943-point decline last October, amid rising fears that the spreading coronavirus delta variant could threaten the U.S. economic recovery. Companies whose stocks were hit the hardest included those in the airline and hospitality industries.