Hill Happenings: Senate Votes to End Mask Mandate and Biden’s Confirmation Struggles

Hill Happenings: Senate Votes to End Mask Mandate and Biden’s Confirmation Struggles

Senators Back Rand’s Measure to End Federal Transportation Mask Mandate

Eight Democrat senators joined all but one of their Republican colleagues in voting to end the CDC’s public health order federally mandating wearing masks on airplanes and other forms of public transportation.

Kentucky Republican – who was the chief advocate for the vote to repeal the measure- said the vote “sent a message to unelected government bureaucrats to stop the anti-science, nanny state requirement of travel mask mandates.” With a vote of 57 Y to 40 N, Senators now send the measure to be considered in the House. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah was the only Republican to vote against ending the mask mandate.

How Drawn Into the / Conflict Will America Get?

The biggest way to tie two things together is with money and even though America hasn’t formally engaged in the Russia/Ukraine conflict, leaders already have caught up American money in the crossfire.

The most glaring example of this is the $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine that lawmakers in both chambers of Congress approved with bipartisan support as part of last week’s $1.5 trillion omnibus funding bill.

However, those aren’t the only American dollars tied up in the Russia/Ukraine conflict. Reports of more insider trading by lawmakers in both parties – that preempted the Russia/Ukraine conflict – have also recently come to light.

Congress was supposed to hold a hearing on insider trading this week but that got canceled due to the committee chair, California Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren testing positive for COVID-19. The hearing has not yet been rescheduled. 

Another notable action taken by Congress last week was the removal of Russia’s “most favored nation” status which means that the U.S. has revoked permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with the country.

With a Fox News reporter injured and both a Fox News cameraman and former New York Times reporter killed in the conflict, how much longer can America resist getting involved via direct military action? We will have to wait and watch as it all unfolds.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is expected to speak directly with U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday. 

One Failure, One Win for Biden Senate Confirmations

Sarah Bloom Raskin withdrew her nomination to be on the Federal Reserve Board mere hours after Democrat Senator of West Virginia indicated that he would not support her confirmation. This all but doomed her prospects to be confirmed to the position of being one of America’s top banking regulators.

Another position that was finally filled this week is a cabinet-level one, that of OMB Director. Shalanda Young has been serving as acting OMB director and was confirmed to the position by 61 Y to 36 N vote in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon.

After a highly controversial first nominee for the position got slammed by both the left and the right in the fall of 2021, Biden was unable to permanently fill the role for almost a year.

Biden’s nomination of Neera Tanden was torpedoed late last year by both Democrats and Republicans over controversial tweets she previously made. Tanden later became White House staff secretary.

The role of the OMB director is to develop the president’s budget and also to make sure that the policy priorities of federal agencies are aligned with that of the president. 

One of the OMB directors under President Trump was Mick Mulvaney  – a former Congressman – who also held the role of acting White House chief of staff during part of his tenure as OMB director. 

Mulvaney was succeeded in the role by Russ Vought, another prominent conservative who currently heads the Center for Renewing America.

The choices of these men to fill this role during Trump’s tenure speaks to the new prominence of the role, and exactly how important filling it is for Biden. 

Democrats Can’t Decide on Legislative Priorities as Midterm Reckoning Draws Closer

Democrats are barely treading water just over a year into the Biden presidency. 

At a press conference held during last week’s Democrat retreat – or as Nancy Pelosi referred to it multiple times, “issues conference” – no one could succinctly answer questions about the party’s legislative agenda, especially on the home front.

Just to show you how far off the Democrat’s priorities are, one thing that is on the agenda this week is the CROWN Act, meant to outlaw discriminating against people on the basis of their hairstyles.

Over 30 House Democrats have already announced that they won’t be seeking re-election this year.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of American Liberty News.

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