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Senators vote to allow babies on Senate floor

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WASHINGTON — Newborns will now be allowed on the Senate floor after senators voted unanimously Wednesday to allow infants under the age of 1 added to the short list of people who can enter the exclusive area.

The request to change Senate rules was made by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who was the first sitting senator to give birth. She gave birth to Maile Pearl Bowlsbey on April 9.

There were practical reasons for the request. The Senate sometimes votes late at night and takes multiple 15-minute votes back to back, often taking an hour or longer, which could be a long time away from a newborn who needs to be fed.

But according to Duckworth’s aide, it’s also about principle. Women are still vastly underrepresented in the Senate even though there’s a record 23 women serving.

“I would like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, particularly those in leadership and on the Rules Committee, for helping bring the Senate into the 21st century by recognizing that sometimes new parents also have responsibilities at work,” Duckworth said in a statement.

The Senate chamber became one of the most exclusive clubs in the 1800s, when senators complained about too many people hanging out on the floor. Senators created a list that has been added to over the last century but still allows just a few people into the chamber. They include the president and vice president, members of Congress, the mayor of Washington and senators’ staff members.

As for babies, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called the addition a “no-brainer.”

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., is enthusiastically supportive of babies on the floor, calling them an excellent distraction. He also noted that children under 12 are allowed on the House floor.

“Originally it was designed to not slow down debate,” Lankford said of the rules. “We don’t have that problem; we’re trying to actually start debate at all here. So bring it.”

Duckworth’s fellow Democratic senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, said babies could be an inspiration to the Senate. “I think it would do us good, every once in a while, to see a pacifier next to the antique inkwells on our desks, or a diaper bag next to a brass spittoon that hasn’t been used in decades,” he said. “Perhaps the cry of a baby will shock this Senate into speaking up and even crying out on the issues that confront our nation and world.”

But will babies have to carry the mandatory floor pass? Or adhere to a dress code? Or wear the Senate pin?

“Don’t put pins on babies! What do you think this is?” exclaimed Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

“I think we can get that baby on with no identification and trust the mother,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. “The baby will be able to wear whatever the baby wants to wear.”

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'No idea what he stands for!' Keir Starmer ripped apart as Labour flounders on core values

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SIR KEIR STARMER’s vague confirmation of his political beliefs has been slammed as the Labour leader now faces demands for clarity over his party’s positions.

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Justice Dept. deems New York City, Portland and Seattle ‘anarchist jurisdictions’

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The Department of Justice on Monday released a list of cities it has deemed “anarchist jurisdictions” under President Donald Trump’s instructions earlier this month to review federal funding to local governments in places where violence or vandalism has occurred during protests.

That memo directed Attorney General William Barr, in consultation with Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, to identify jurisdictions “that have permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract these criminal activities (anarchist jurisdictions).”

On Monday, the Justice Department labeled New York City, Portland and Seattle such areas, though the department said it was still working to identify other jurisdictions that meet criteria outlined in Trump’s memo.

“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance,” Barr said. “It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”

As part of its rationale for labeling the cities as such, the Justice Department cited city councils voting to cut police funding, the refusal to prosecute protesters for charges like disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly, the rejection of federal intervention, and law enforcement officials suffering injuries during violent outbursts.

New York Attorney General Letitia James responded to the Justice Department’s announcement in a statement Monday, saying Trump is “using the last few months of his presidency to sow more chaos, more hatred, and more fear,” and pledged to defeat the Trump administration in court over any such withholding of funding to the city and state.

“This designation is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to scare Americans into voting for a commander-in-chief who is actually incapable of commanding our nation,” she said, adding that Trump “should be prepared to defend this illegal order in court, which hypocritically lays the groundwork to defund New York and the very types of law enforcement President Trump pretends to care about.”

Democratic mayors and governors earlier this month bashed Trump over his latest effort aimed at what he calls “Democrat-run” cities and states. They said it was illegal for the executive branch to unilaterally withhold funding from their jurisdictions and that Trump was merely seeking another distraction from the U.S. coronavirus death toll, which has now topped 200,000.

“It is another attempt to kill New York City,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters during a late-night conference call earlier this month, adding Trump “better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the streets in New York.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee called Trump’s efforts “the latest baseless, petty and divisive move by President Trump to distract from his abject failure to protect Americans from COVID-19.”

“With more than 185,000 lives lost on his watch, we won’t forget,” he said. “The president cannot and will not defund us. He is not a dictator and laws still apply to him.”

At the time, a White House official said the effort was aimed at withholding grant money from such jurisdictions it deemed to be “anarchist.”

“We’re not going to keep providing those funds from the federal level if they’re not using them,” the official said.



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'I want to know about it!' Hancock hits back at claims test and trace is still a farce

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MATT HANCOCK challenged a Labour MP over his claims that the Health Secretary had not managed to resolve problems with the NHS Test and Trace system and informed the House of Commons of his solutions to the issue.

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