Jake Johnson

'A devastating failure': Eviction ban expires as House goes on vacation and Biden refuses to act

A nationwide eviction moratorium officially expired Saturday after the Biden administration refused to extend it unilaterally and Congress failed to act in time, putting millions of people across the U.S. at risk of losing their homes in the near future as the highly virulent Delta strain tears through the country.

The CDC's temporary eviction ban lapsed as a growing group of lawmakers and activists rallied on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to demand that Democratic leaders immediately reconvene the House and pass an extension. Many lawmakers skipped town Friday after the House adjourned for its seven-week August recess without holding a vote on prolonging the moratorium, which—while flawed—significantly curbed the number eviction filings nationwide.

"We're now in an eviction emergency," said Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who has been camping out at the U.S. Capitol building since Friday to push for immediate action from Congress and the Biden White House. "Eleven million are now at risk of losing their homes at any moment. The House needs to reconvene and put an end to this crisis."

In a letter to President Joe Biden and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Saturday, Bush joined Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and others in calling on the White House to do everything in its power to "prevent the historic and deadly wave of evictions that will occur should the government fail to extend the eviction moratorium."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must leverage every authority available to extend the eviction moratorium before it is too late," the Democratic lawmakers wrote. "In the meantime, we are continuing to work diligently to push for legislative action and ensure that states and localities in our districts are disbursing the billions in critical emergency rental assistance to renters and property owners that Congress passed most recently as part of the American Rescue Plan."


State and local governments have thus far distributed just $3 billion of the roughly $46 billion that Congress appropriated for the Emergency Rental Assistance initiative, a program designed to help keep at-risk tenants in their homes amid the ongoing public health emergency, which has dramatically worsened the country's preexisting housing crisis. Nationwide, total rent debt is now estimated to be around $20 billion.

Contrary to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) claim Friday that "we only learned about this yesterday," lawmakers had been aware of the looming eviction emergency since at least June 29, when the conservative-dominated Supreme Court signaled that it would likely toss out any attempt to keep the moratorium in place beyond July 31.

When the CDC extended the ban for the fourth time on June 24, the agency said that "this is intended to be the final extension of the moratorium."

In a statement on Thursday—just 72 hours before the moratorium's expiration—White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pointed to the June Supreme Court ruling as the reason the Biden administration would not act on its own to extend the ban. The next day, lawmakers scrambled to build support for legislation that would extend the moratorium, but the effort collapsed amid opposition from centrist Democrats and Republicans.

Late Friday, House Democrats attempted to pass a five-month extension of the moratorium using a procedure known as unanimous consent, but Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) objected, tanking the bill. The House proceeded to adjourn for August recess without a roll-call vote.

Under pressure from progressive lawmakers and advocacy groups, the House Democratic leadership has not yet given any indication that it plans to reconvene the chamber.

"What a devastating failure to act in a moment of crisis," said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. "As the Delta variant surges and our understanding of its dangers grow, the White House punts to Congress in the final 48 hours and the House leaves for summer break."

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, who joined Bush and dozens of activists at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, said that "it's just simply unacceptable" for members of Congress to go on vacation as the eviction moratorium lapses.

"We cannot be abandoning the up to 11 million Americans that are in need, particularly when emergency rental assistance—the $46 billion that we authorized—has not gotten out."


Due to loopholes in the CDC's moratorium, landlords continued to file for eviction even with the temporary ban in place. Now that the moratorium has lapsed, experts and housing advocates fear that eviction cases currently in the pipeline will resume imminently, threatening millions with the loss of their homes.

"Tens of thousands [of pending evictions] across the state, easily, are just sitting there in abatement waiting until the CDC order expires," Mark Melton, an attorney with the Dallas Eviction Advocacy Center, told the Texas Tribune on Friday. "And the second [the moratorium] expires, the landlord or the court will call for another hearing, and they're all going to go through. If there's no CDC declaration, those evictions are just going to go through."

For weeks, activists have been warning that a wave of evictions amid growing coronavirus infections would be catastrophic. A recent study by a UCLA-led team of researchers found that the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths "increased dramatically after states lifted eviction moratoriums" last year. While some states still have eviction bans in place, those too are set to expire in the coming weeks.

According to an analysis by Eviction Lab last month, neighborhoods across the U.S. with the highest eviction filing rates typically have the lowest levels of vaccination against Covid-19.

"The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over, and while vaccination access is improving, it's still limited in disadvantaged communities that are at greatest risk for eviction," Eviction Lab researchers wrote. "The CDC eviction moratorium is, for many tenants behind on rent, the last remaining protection from the threat of displacement."

Citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that "renters in Southern states are among the most vulnerable to the ban's expiration."

"Mississippi, South Carolina, and Georgia tenants are more likely to carry rent debt than the U.S. average," the Journal noted. "Eviction laws and procedures in some Southern states are also among the most landlord-friendly in the country, which means many tenants could be evicted quickly once the ban lifts. In Mississippi, tenants can lose their eviction case in court and be removed from their home on the same day. In Arkansas, landlords can pursue criminal charges for tenants who don't pay rent. And in western Tennessee, where a federal judge ruled that the CDC ban was unconstitutional, tenants are already getting evicted for nonpayment."

Progressives threaten to tank the bipartisan infrastructure deal if their demands aren't met

House progressives made clear Wednesday night that they are willing to vote down a newly etched bipartisan infrastructure deal unless a sweeping budget reconciliation package advances simultaneously, a threat that came after Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema announced her opposition to a $3.5 trillion climate and social spending proposal.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that "a small bipartisan infrastructure bill doesn't have a path forward in the House unless it has a jobs and families package with our progressive priorities alongside it."

Late Wednesday, just 24 hours after the deal appeared to be on the verge of collapse due to disputes over transit funding and other issues, the Senate voted with the White House's blessing to take up bipartisan infrastructure legislation that calls for just $550 billion in spending over eight years—a far cry from the $2.2 trillion President Joe Biden pushed for in his original American Jobs Plan.

The new bipartisan deal—negotiated by a group of more than 20 senators led by Sinema and Rob Portman (R-Ohio)—is slightly smaller than the framework that Biden endorsed last month, and it includes tens of billions in funding for roads, bridges, waterways, public transit, and broadband but little by way of climate investment.

Because the agreement does not include any tax increases and Republicans stripped out funding to help the IRS pursue rich tax cheats, questions remain over how the legislation will be financed. Among the proposed pay-fors is a vague—and potentially insidious—plan to root out "fraud" in unemployment insurance.

And while progressives were alarmed by privatization schemes in the original bipartisan deal, such provisions appear to have been dramatically curtailed in the new agreement.

In floor remarks following Wednesday's successful procedural vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reiterated that the framework—which still must be converted into final legislative text—is just one component of "a two-track strategy on infrastructure: a bipartisan bill focused on traditional, brick-and-mortar infrastructure projects, and a budget reconciliation bill where Democrats plan to make historic investments in American jobs, American families, and efforts to fight climate change."

"In order to start work on a reconciliation bill, the Senate must pass a budget resolution first," said Schumer. "As I've said repeatedly, our goal was to pass both bills this session, hopefully in July. My goal remains to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution during this work period. Both. It might take some long nights. It might eat into our weekends. But we are going to get the job done. And we are on track."

But that two-track approach could be imperiled by Sinema's opposition to the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation proposal that Senate Democratic leaders unveiled earlier this month in an effort to address the major shortcomings of the bipartisan package.

To pass a bill through the arcane reconciliation process, Democrats need all 50 votes from their Senate caucus.

"While I will support beginning this [reconciliation] process, I do not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion—and in the coming months, I will work in good faith to develop this legislation with my colleagues and the administration," Sinema (D-Ariz.) said Wednesday, taking a position that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) applauded as "very courageous."

Several House progressives, including prominent members of the so-called "Squad," responded with outrage to Sinema's statement and indicated they would vote no on any bipartisan infrastructure bill not accompanied by a bold reconciliation package. Given Democrats' narrow margins in the House, it likely wouldn't take many progressive defections to tank the bipartisan bill.

"Sinema seems not to care that her own state is flooding, the West is burning, and infrastructure around the country is crumbling," said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). "Sinema is more interested in gaining GOP friends and blocking much needed resources than fighting for her residents' future."

"Time for the White House to play hardball," Tlaib added. "We didn't elect Sinema as president and we won't let her obstruction put a Republican in the Oval Office in 2024. It's the reconciliation bill or GOP controlling every level of government again, period."

Lauren Maunus, advocacy director for the youth-led Sunrise Movement, echoed Tlaib's message in a statement Wednesday night, warning that "this bipartisan deal is comically and terrifyingly small."

"Biden and Congress can't get distracted by this pathetic version of an infrastructure package that only waters down much needed climate priorities, like transit, even further," Maunus said. "The climate crisis is here—and we see it every day with fatal heat waves, monsoons, and wildfires."

"Schumer should only bring forward the bipartisan deal if he has every Democratic senator's vote for at least a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill first," Maunus added. "Progressives made it clear and are not backing down: no climate, no deal."

Republicans are laying the groundwork to 'overturn results' of elections: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Imploring the Democratic leadership to act before it's too late, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned Monday that the Republican supporters of newly enacted state-level voter suppression laws are laying the groundwork to overturn election results in the near future.

The New York Democrat joined the chorus voicing concern over the national Democratic Party's emerging plan to try to "out-organize" GOP-authored voter suppression laws—a strategy that civil rights organizations have said is doomed to fail in the absence of federal action to protect ballot access.

"Communities cannot 'out-organize' voter suppression when those they organize to elect won't protect the vote," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "Even if they do out-organize, the ground is being set to overturn results."

"The time to fight like hell for democracy is right now," she added. "We may not get another chance."


According to a report (pdf) released last month by a trio of advocacy groups, 14 Republican-led state legislatures—animated by former President Donald Trump's incessant lies about widespread voter fraud—have implemented at least two dozen new laws this year that could "politicize, criminalize, and interfere in election administration."

Compiled by the States United Democracy Center, Law Forward, and Protect Democracy, the report spotlights alarming provisions of several new laws and proposed bills that would make it easier for political officials to contest—and potentially nullify—election results.

In Arizona, the report notes, H.B. 2800 would "require the legislature to come into special session after each election and potentially overturn the result."

"Texas' S.B. 7 also forges a new, perilous path in overturning election results," the analysis continues. "It creates a new category of election litigation if the case involves allegations of fraud conducted by a candidate or affiliates of the candidate. Under the new provision, a losing party may file an election contest and allege fraud. He or she is then only required to prove that fraud occurred by a preponderance of the evidence—in other words, whether the fraud more likely occurred than not. If the number of votes at issue would have been outcome determinative, then a judge can overturn the election 'without attempting to determine how individual voters voted.'"

As the New York Times reported earlier this month, Georgia's new voter suppression law—signed by the state's Republican governor March—"risks making election subversion easier" by creating "new avenues for partisan interference in election administration."

"This includes allowing the state elections board, now newly controlled by appointees of the Republican state legislature, to appoint a single person to take control of typically bipartisan county election boards, which have important power over vote counting and voter eligibility," the Times observed. "The law also gives the legislature the authority to appoint the chair of the state election board and two more of its five voting members, allowing it to appoint a majority of the board. It strips the secretary of state of the chair and a vote."

Democratic lawmakers and activists are growing increasingly concerned that the draconian new laws could give Republicans an advantage in upcoming elections, imperiling Democrats' narrow control of the U.S. House and Senate.

"If there isn't a way for us to repeat what happened in November 2020, we're f---ed," Nsé Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project, told Politico. "We are doing what we do to make sure that not only our constituents, our base, the people, the communities that we organize with, get it. We're trying to make sure that our elected officials get it as well."

Texas state lawmakers are sending a similar message to Democratic members of Congress. Earlier this month, dozens of Texas Democrats fled their state for Washington, D.C. in an effort to block S.B. 7 and call attention to the need for federal action—specifically, passage of the For the People Act, legislation that would help neutralize state-level voter suppression efforts.

Congressional Republicans deployed the legislative filibuster last month to block debate on the popular bill.

"Republicans have already introduced nearly 400 voter suppression efforts this year," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said late Monday. "Until we end the filibuster and pass the For the People Act, we're letting them get away with it."

On Tuesday, Texas state Democrats are set to testify before a House Oversight and Reform Committee panel on the urgent necessity of federal voting rights legislation

"It is important for them to know the specific stories that are happening in Texas," state Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-103), one of the roughly 60 Texas lawmakers who made the trip to the nation's capital, said during a recent press conference. "This is happening in real time, and it's very, very dangerous."

Ron DeSantis under fire as Florida now accounts for 1 in 5 new US COVID cases

The state of Florida now accounts for one in five new coronavirus infections in the United States, making it the nation's most alarming hot spot as the highly transmissible Delta strain rips through undervaccinated communities and drives a surge in hospitalizations.

According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida has recorded 73,181 new Covid-19 cases over the past week, the most in the country. Florida also logged the most coronavirus deaths of any U.S. state in the last seven days—319—and hospitalizations are spiking, prompting dire warnings from physicians and calls for public safety measures to stop the spread.

But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and likely 2024 presidential candidate, has recently taken to mocking such measures; earlier this month, the governor's team launched a new merchandise line that includes a koozie with the quote, "How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?"

Other items take aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a frequent target of right-wing ire. "Don't Fauci My Florida," declares a shirt selling for $21 on a DeSantis campaign website.

While DeSantis has publicly stressed the importance of vaccination in recent days, Florida physicians have attributed the surge in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in the state to the governor's rush to end public health restrictions.

"While hospitals in our state were filling up, DeSantis was shouting about 'Freedom over Faucism,'" said Bernard Ashby, a Miami-based cardiologist and head of the of the Florida chapter of the Committee to Protect Health Care. "If DeSantis were as concerned about stopping Covid-19 spread as he was about coming up with these clever jabs about Dr. Fauci, we might not be in this position."

As the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, epidemiologists argue that "various factors" are behind the Florida crisis, including: "large numbers of unvaccinated people, a relaxation of preventive measures like mask-wearing and social distancing, the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, and the congregation of people indoors during hot summer months."

Chad Neilsen, director of accreditation and infection prevention at the University of Florida Health Jacksonville, told the Journal that hospitalizations are surging at a rate "we have not seen before ever." Data collected by Florida epidemiologists shows that recent hospital patients have been skewing younger, with more than half under the age of 60.

"It really has been unbelievable," said Neilsen.

In a scathing editorial last week, the Orlando Sentinel accused DeSantis of prioritizing his presidential aspirations over Florida's pandemic response.

"Florida was all over the news this past weekend with one of the nation's biggest spikes in Covid cases and hospitalizations," the editorial reads. "And where was Gov. Ron DeSantis as this health crisis resurged? Visiting hospitals? Consulting with physicians and public health experts? Huddling with his staff to brainstorm ways of persuading more Floridians to take the vaccine that would nip this pandemic in the bud?"

"Nope. Florida's governor was in Texas, 1,000 miles from Tallahassee, burnishing his 2024 presidential ambitions with a visit to the southern border," the article continues. "The governor was back in Florida on Sunday but, once again, not to focus on the Covid health crisis but this time to make fun of Anthony Fauci in a speech before a crowd of young conservatives in Tampa... And every few days, nearly as many people are dying from Covid as died in the recent collapse of a condominium in South Florida."

Florida's coronavirus surge comes in the context of a nationwide jump in infections that has federal officials worried about another devastating wave as vaccination rates slow and governments relax—and, in the case of Florida and other Republican-led states, aim to actively prohibit—public health requirements such as mask-wearing indoors.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that "hospitalizations have increased in 45 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico over the past two weeks."

"The only states where they have gone down are Maryland, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont," the Times noted. "Florida, Missouri, and Texas account for about 34% of all new cases nationwide. Greene County in southwestern Missouri reported 259 Covid-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday, up from a previous high of 237 on December 1. By Wednesday, that number was 265."

In an appearance on CNN Sunday morning, Fauci warned that the U.S. is "going in the wrong direction."

"This is an issue predominantly among the unvaccinated," said Fauci, "which is the reason why we're out there practically pleading with the unvaccinated people to go out and get vaccinated."

Republicans just gave a new gift to rich tax cheats

Under pressure from well-heeled conservative advocacy organizations and donors, Republican senators have removed funding for IRS enforcement from an emerging bipartisan infrastructure plan, threatening to tank a proposed crackdown on rich tax cheats.

"Fully funding the IRS = $1.2 trillion in revenue over 10 years. No wonder Republicans want to protect their rich friends."
—Rep. Ro Khanna

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), part of the 22-member bipartisan group that's rushing to hash out the details of the infrastructure bill ahead of a key procedural vote this week, confirmed Sunday that the IRS provision has been removed due to right-wing "pushback." Portman also complained that Democratic lawmakers are working to provide the IRS with more funding in their forthcoming reconciliation package, which can pass without Republican support.

The scrapped provision would have increased the IRS budget—a frequent target of GOP cuts in recent years—by $40 billion over the next decade to help the agency combat tax dodging, which is depriving the federal government of trillions of dollars in revenue. An analysis released earlier this year by academics and IRS researchers estimated that 36% of unpaid federal income taxes are owed by the top 1%.

Due to persistent funding shortages and inadequate staffing, the IRS now audits poor Americans at roughly the same rate as the wealthy, who often use complex strategies to avoid paying taxes. Big businesses are also taking advantage of the depleted IRS; the agency now audits just half of all large company tax returns, allowing corporations to claim unwarranted tax breaks.

"The decision to exclude the IRS provision means lawmakers will have to scramble to replace it to complete the infrastructure package before a midweek deadline, and it casts new uncertainty over the talks," the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

It's unsurprising that Republicans are not enthusiastic about boosting IRS funding, given that their party is responsible for the 20% decline in the agency's budget between 2010 and 2018.

"Fully funding the IRS = $1.2 trillion in revenue over 10 years," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted last week. "No wonder Republicans want to protect their rich friends."

The decision to strip the proposed IRS funding from the list of pay-fors in the bipartisan infrastructure package came after conservative advocacy organizations pressured Republicans to oppose the provision. As the Washington Post reported earlier this month, a coalition of right-wing groups including the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, FreedomWorks, the Conservative Action Project, and the Leadership Institute warned Republican lawmakers not to "negotiate with the White House unless they agree to 'no additional funding for the Internal Revenue Service.'"

"The groups leading the opposition to the IRS budget increase include those that have received funds from major conservative donors, including the Mercer Family Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and Donors Trust, a donor-advised fund that gives to conservative and libertarian causes," the Post noted. "One signatory of the letter, Phil Kerpen of American Commitment, worked for five years at Americans for Prosperity, the main political arm of the influential Koch network."

Democratic lawmakers are expected to pursue IRS funding in their multitrillion-dollar reconciliation package, but it's not yet clear how much—and their effort could run up against arcane budget reconciliation rules.

As part of his original safety net expansion plan, President Joe Biden called for $80 billion in additional IRS funding, a proposal that the White House said would bring in roughly $700 billion in revenue over a decade.

Some Democrats, including Khanna, have demanded more. As part of his Stop Corporations and Higher Earners From Avoiding Taxes and Enforce Rules Strictly (CHEATERS) Act, the California Democrat has proposed investing $100 billion in the IRS over ten years.

"We know our tax system is broken, and it's long past time we start fixing it," Khanna said earlier this year.

Ocasio-Cortez slams Biden administration for upholding 'absurdly cruel' Cuba embargo

Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday condemned the Biden administration for upholding the United States' crippling embargo against Cuba, where people have taken to the streets in recent days to protest food and medicine shortages exacerbated by the decades-old economic restrictions.

"The embargo is absurdly cruel and, like too many other U.S. policies targeting Latin Americans, the cruelty is the point," Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) said in a statement Thursday night. "I outright reject the Biden administration's defense of the embargo. It is never acceptable for us to use cruelty as a point of leverage against every day people."

In late June, just weeks before the protests in Cuba began, the Biden administration joined the Israeli government in voting against a United Nations resolution calling for an end to the longstanding U.S. embargo, which—according to a 2018 U.N. report—has cost the island nation's economy $130 billion since it was imposed in the 1960s. The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the nonbinding resolution by a vote of 184-2, with Colombia, Ukraine, and Brazil abstaining.

Last October, the Cuban government estimated that the U.S. embargo cost the country's economy more than $5 billion between April 2019 through March 2020, the month the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus crisis a global pandemic.

In her statement on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez expressed solidarity with Cubans protesting for better economic conditions and criticized the Cuban government for what she described as "anti-democratic" responses to the recent street demonstrations. But the New York Democrat added that "we also must name the U.S. contribution to Cuban suffering: our 60-year-old embargo."

The Biden administration is currently in the process of reviewing the U.S. policy of economic warfare against Cuba, which the Trump administration intensified by tightening sanctions and declaring the country a "state sponsor of terror"—a designation that inflicted additional damage on the Cuban economy.

President Joe Biden has yet to reverse his predecessor's damaging policy moves toward Cuba, despite growing pressure to do so. During a press conference on Thursday, Biden said he does not intend to ease a policy barring people in the U.S. from sending money to their Cuban relatives on the island.

In recent days, Biden administration officials have downplayed the role of the U.S. embargo in causing acute food and medicine shortages in Cuba, issues that the coronavirus pandemic has made substantially worse. Speaking to reporters earlier this week, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price dismissively referred to the embargo as the "so-called embargo" and refused to say whether the ban on remittances is harming the Cuban economy.

Price went on to claim that current U.S. policy "allows humanitarian goods to reach Cuba," but The Intercept reported last month that U.S.-imposed trade restrictions have contributed to the island nation's struggle "to obtain critical foreign-made medical supplies to treat its own population" and other necessities.

William LeoGrande, professor of government at American University in Washington, D.C., wrote in a column for The Daily Beast on Thursday that the protests in Cuba "should be a decision-forcing event for the Biden administration."

"In the next few weeks, Biden will have to make a fateful choice," wrote LeoGrande. "He can slide Cuba to the back burner of his agenda once again in the hope that the crisis on the island will subside without any U.S. action. Or he can act decisively, announcing a policy aimed at reducing the suffering of the Cuban people by lifting Trump's sanctions—as he promised to do during the presidential campaign."

Ocasio-Cortez urges Biden not to send US troops to Haiti

U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Monday morning that the Biden administration should resist calls to deploy American troops to Haiti in the wake of the assassination of the Caribbean nation's president last week, warning that such a move would risk deepening the country's political crisis.

"I do not believe right now that the introduction of U.S. troops, particularly without any sort of plan, sets any community —whether it's the U.S. or whether it's Haitians—up for success," the New York Democrat said in an appearance on Democracy Now! "Our role should be in supporting a peaceful transition and a peaceful democratic process for selecting a new leader and avoiding any sort of violence."

Ocasio-Cortez went on to say that the Biden administration should support efforts to bring to justice "any actors that may have been complicit [in the assassination] on U.S. soil."

Watch:

The New York congresswoman's remarks came hours after Haitian authorities announced the arrest of a Haitian-born, Florida-based doctor who allegedly helped mastermind the killing of President Jovenel Moïse in his home last week.

Christian Emmanuel Sanon—a 63-year-old man who has been living in Florida periodically for two decades and has more than a dozen businesses registered in the state—is the third Haitian-American who has been arrested in connection with the assassination. In total, more than two dozen people have been detained for taking part in the killing, including 11 former members of the U.S.-backed Colombian military.

According to Haitian authorities, Sanon worked with a Miami-based private security firm to hire the mercenaries who gunned down Moïse in the dead of night. Video footage from the scene shows armed assailants posing as officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as they moved in on Moïse's private residence in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Following the assassination, Acting Prime Minister Claude Joseph asked the Biden administration to send U.S. troops to Haiti with the ostensible goal of protecting the country's key infrastructure, prompting outcry from Haitians and observers familiar with the bloody history of U.S. intervention in the Caribbean nation.

While the Biden administration has yet to grant the troop request, the U.S. did send officials from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to Haiti over the weekend to—in the words of Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby—"see what we can do to help them in the investigative process."

"I think that's really where our energies are best applied right now in helping them get their arms around investigating this incident and figuring out who's culpable, who's responsible, and how best to hold them accountable going forward," Kirby said in a Fox News appearance on Sunday. "That's where our focus is right now."

Kirby added that Joseph's call for U.S. troops is "going through a review."

Flooded NYC subways exemplify why climate is key to infrastructure fight

Footage of New Yorkers struggling to wade through filthy, waist-deep water at a Manhattan subway station as heavy rainfall engulfed the city's aging and long-neglected infrastructure on Thursday added fuel to progressive demands for a robust federal spending package that confronts the climate crisis—which is making such extreme weather more frequent and destructive.

"It's been raining for two hours and our infrastructure is flooding and overwhelmed," tweeted Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). "Our infrastructure package must address the climate change crisis with the urgency it deserves—with massive investments in decarbonization and clean energy."

"The impacts of climate change are already here," Bowman added. "It is urgent that our infrastructure package makes significant investments to prepare for and mitigate future emergency weather events."

One New Yorker who witnessed the scene at Manhattan's 157th Street Station told Gothamist that "people were pacing back and forth deliberating whether they were going to brave the waters or not." The person described the water as "real disgusting."


Other videos posted to social media on Thursday showed cars nearly halfway submerged in water as commuters attempted to navigate through the storm. One person was seen driving a jet ski on a badly flooded street.

"A 'bipartisan' infrastructure bill isn't big enough to stop climate change," said Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), referring to a $579 billion White House-endorsed package that includes hardly any climate funding—an omission progressives are attempting to remedy with a separate multitrillion-dollar bill that will move through the budget reconciliation process.

The fierce rainfall and heavy winds came as Tropical Storm Elsa made its way up the East Coast of the U.S., sparking tornadoes in Georgia and North Carolina and prompting warnings of additional flooding in the Northeast on Friday.

"Flash flood watches were in effect for parts of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut until noon on Friday, as Elsa was expected to deliver heavy rain across the area," the New York Times reported. "Transit officials, already girding for Elsa's arrival, said they had crews out across the city addressing the flooding problems as quickly as possible and warned against entering stations that might still be inundated."

The tropical storm hammered the Eastern U.S. as the Pacific Northwest grapples with a heatwave that experts have characterized as "the most extreme in world weather records." The historic temperatures, which reached as high as 121°F in British Columbia, killed hundreds of people—and more than a billion intertidal animals—in the U.S. and Canada.

On Wednesday, officials in Multnomah County, Oregon deemed the devastating heatwave a "mass casualty event" as the death toll in the state rose to 107.

A rapid-response analysis published earlier this week by a group of more than two dozen scientists found that the heatwave "would have been virtually impossible" in the absence of the human-caused climate crisis, and warned that such extreme events will become increasingly common without a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

"Firenados in northern California. Ocean fires in the Gulf of Mexico. Subway waterfalls in New York City. A heat dome in the Northwest melting power cables, killing hundreds, and frying marine animals," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, tweeted Friday. "I have been told that combating climate change is expensive. Compared to what?"

Biden applauded for executive order targeting 'insidious' anti-worker practices

Among the 72 initiatives packed into the far-reaching executive order President Joe Biden signed Friday are steps that labor advocates welcomed as important victories for U.S. workers, including a provision calling for the limitation of noncompete clauses that drive down wages by preventing employees from quitting for better-paying jobs.

Presented as an effort to promote competition in an economy increasingly dominated by a handful of massive corporations, Biden's sweeping order calls on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—now headed by antitrust law expert Lina Khan—to "ban or limit non-compete agreements," which the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen described as "insidious" ploys to restrict worker mobility and suppress wages.

Biden echoed that message in a speech on Friday, declaring that corporations use noncompete clauses "for one reason: to keep wages low."

Analysts estimate that tens of millions of private-sector workers are currently under some form of noncompete clause preventing them from leaving their jobs to work for—or start—a competing business within a certain period of time.

HuffPost labor reporter Dave Jamieson noted that while noncompete clauses have "traditionally been used to protect closely guarded business secrets in high-income fields... they have proliferated so much in recent years that they touch all income levels, even low-wage service work."

"In many cases, noncompete clauses are only 'agreements' in theory, since not signing one means not getting the job," Jamieson observed.

Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), said Thursday that "noncompetes are ubiquitous, harmful to wages and to competition, and part of a growing trend of employers requiring workers to sign away their rights."

Biden's decision to take aim at noncompete clauses as part of a broader effort to tackle corporate concentration won applause from unions and progressives advocacy groups, who said the president's order is an important step toward reversing the decades-long trend of stagnant wages and declining worker power.

"We support President Biden's focus on workers and consumers as we seek a more competitive economy," Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, said in a statement. "A successful economy must serve the people who produce the goods and services that improve our lives."

Barry Lynn, executive director of the Open Markets Institute, said he is "especially pleased to see the administration move to protect America's most powerless workers and farmers."

"We hope the Biden administration stays on this path and truly stands with the people against those who seek to monopolize all opportunity, wealth, and power for themselves alone," Lynn added.

Other elements of Biden's executive order that seek to empower workers include a provision encouraging the FTC and Justice Department to "strengthen antitrust guidance to prevent employers from collaborating to suppress wages or reduce benefits by sharing wage and benefit information with one another."

In recent years, major corporations—from Google and Apple to McDonald's and Burger King—have entered so-called "no poaching" pacts agreeing not to hire each other's workers, deals that critics say serve to drive down wages and benefits.

The president's order also urges the FTC to prohibit "unnecessary" occupational licensing restrictions, which can hinder workers from moving across state lines to find better-paying jobs in their field.

"The measures encouraged by this EO represent a wish list progressives and other pro-competition advocates have been promoting for years, and in some cases decades," David Segal, director of the Demand Progress Education Fund, said in a statement.

"From a ban on non-compete agreements that suppress wages and keep employees tied to jobs they would rather leave, to pushing for importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada—and from helping people switch between banks to addressing anti-competitive behavior in online marketplaces, these initiatives would improve the wellbeing of workers, small and mid-sized businesses, and consumers across essentially all major sectors of the American economy," Segal added.

Alex Harman, the competition policy advocate for Public Citizen, hailed Biden's order as "the most significant executive action against corporate monopolies in generations."

"This EO sends a clear and unambiguous message that corporate concentration throughout our economy is a crisis-level problem," said Harman. "That clarion call has been absent for decades, as administrations of both parties have let antitrust and antimonopoly enforcement fall into disrepair and decay."

Study shows deadly Northwest heatwave would've been 'virtually impossible' without climate crisis

A rapid-response scientific analysis of the Pacific Northwest heatwave that has killed hundreds of people—and more than a billion intertidal animals—indicates that the extreme temperature event "would have been virtually impossible" in the absence of the human-caused climate crisis.

"Our results provide a strong warning: our rapidly warming climate is bringing us into uncharted territory that has significant consequences for health, well-being, and livelihoods," reads the analysis, which was conducted by a team of more than two dozen scientists as part of the World Weather Attribution initiative.

The group's aim is to examine and quickly publicize connections between extreme weather events and the climate crisis to undercut denialists' claims that the two are unrelated.

While the latest study has not yet been peer-reviewed, the researchers utilized peer-reviewed methods that have helped produce a growing body of research in a relatively new scientific field known as "extreme event attribution."

The new analysis estimates that the heatwave that ravaged southwest Canada and the northwestern U.S.—particularly Oregon and Washington state—was "about a 1 in 1000 year event in today's climate" and would "have been at least 150 times rarer without human-induced climate change."

"An event such as the Pacific Northwest 2021 heatwave is still rare or extremely rare in today's climate, yet would be virtually impossible without human-caused climate change. As warming continues, it will become a lot less rare," the scientists wrote Wednesday. "The future will be characterized by more frequent, more severe, and longer heatwaves, highlighting the importance of significantly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the amount of additional warming."

"The latest heat-related death numbers are alarming," the researchers added, "yet they are likely a severe undercount and the real toll will only become clear after mortality statistics are reviewed for the role of heat in exacerbating underlying conditions."

Since its start in late last month—which has been deemed North America's hottest June on record—has been linked to more than 100 deaths in Oregon, around 30 in Washington state, and nearly 500 in western Canada.

Kristie Ebi, a professor at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington and a co-author of the new analysis, told the Associated Press that "this study is telling us climate change is killing people."

"Heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer of Americans," said Ebi.

The Pacific Northwest is still experiencing intense heat, and—as the Washington Post reported Wednesday—is "bracing for another bout of exceptional heat amid a pattern that could once again place records in jeopardy."

"Temperatures up to 25 degrees above average could dominate most of the West this weekend into next week, with little relief in sight for quite some time," the Post noted. "Odds favor anomalously hot and dry conditions to prevail into the fall."

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