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Bipartisan negotiators unveil 2,702-page infrastructure bill

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(WASHINGTON) -- After days of deliberation, senators who negotiated a bipartisan infrastructure package unveiled the legislative text of the massive proposal Sunday night.

The 2,702-page bill was released after weeks of deliberation among a bipartisan group of 10 senators and members of the administration.

The bill, worth $550 billion in new spending, will address core infrastructure needs. It includes $110 billion in new funds for roads and bridges, $66 billion for rail, $7.5 billion to build out electric vehicle charging stations, $17 billion for ports, $25 billion for airports, $55 billion for clean drinking water, a $65 billion investment in high-speed internet and more.

The Senate will begin deliberation on amendments as it heads into the work week. Members of both parties have said they support a robust amendment process that will give lawmakers the chance to try to modify the bill.

There’s not yet an agreement on how many amendments will be considered, but Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made clear late Sunday night that he wants to see the Senate act swiftly to pass the legislation.

"Given how bipartisan the bill is and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments to pass this bill in a matter of days," Schumer said.

Members of the bipartisan group heralded the agreement as a triumph of bipartisanship.

In a politically contentious environment with an evenly divided Senate, the bipartisan group said they felt it was important to demonstrate that across-the-aisle work can yield results.

“This process of starting from the center out has worked," Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican and the chief Republican negotiator in the bipartisan group, said on the Senate floor Sunday evening.

“I am delighted to demonstrate to the American people that we can work across the aisle in a bipartisan way to achieve real results that matter to the people of this country,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, added.

It is not yet clear how many Republicans will ultimately vote to pass the legislation after amendments are considered, but the bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support in a key procedural test vote last week. Seventeen Republicans -- including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- voted with all of the Democrats to advance the legislation.

The bipartisan agreement is just one part of the two-pronged approach Democrats are taking to try to pass President Joe Biden’s American Families Plan into law.

Schumer has long stated that after the bipartisan bill is passed Democrats will work on moving a separate $3.5 trillion budget bill using a process called reconciliation, which allows them to bypass the usual 60-vote threshold necessary to pass legislation in the Senate.

That second, larger package is expected to include funding for things like pre-K, housing, health care and other items that Republicans struck from the bipartisan plan in order to achieve a more narrowly tailored infrastructure proposal.

To pass the budget bill, Schumer will need the support of every Democrat serving in the Senate. It’s not yet clear he’ll have it.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the chief Democratic negotiator on the bipartisan infrastructure deal, released a statement last week which said she does not support a bill that costs $3.5 trillion.

Several members of the Senate Budget Committee, which will handle that larger bill, say that for now, they’re focused on passing the bipartisan bill and on opening discussions about their package.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Kinzinger open to issuing subpoenas for members of Congress, including McCarthy

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(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Sunday he supports issuing subpoenas to anyone who has information about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and what action former President Donald Trump took -- even members of his own party, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

"I would support subpoenas to anybody that can shed light on that, if that's the leader that's the leader," Kinzinger told ABC "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl. "Anybody with parts of that information, with inside knowledge, can probably expect to be talking to the committee.”

"I would expect to see a significant number of subpoenas for a lot of people," Kinzinger added.

Kinzinger, R-Ill., said that while some members of Congress attempt to brush off the events of Jan. 6 because it's "politically inconvenient," the committee is determined to get a full account of the truth.

"If anybody's scared of this investigation I ask you one question, what are you afraid of? I mean, either you're afraid of being discovered, of having some culpability in it or, you know what? If you -- if you think it wasn't a big deal, then you should allow this to go forward," he said.

Kinzinger and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., are the only two Republicans appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the House select committee spearheading the investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection. The panel held its first hearing Tuesday, with emotional witness testimony from four police officers who responded to the attack.

The committee plans to meet on Zoom during the August recess to plan next steps, including issuing "quite a few" subpoenas, Chairman Bennie Thompson, R-Miss., said on Friday. He added that staffers will meet with Justice Department officials next week and members have requested a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland.

"This cannot continue to be a partisan fight," Kinzinger said during Tuesday's hearing. "I'm a conservative, but in order to heal from the damage caused that day, we need to call out the facts. It is time to stop the outrage and the conspiracies that fuel the violence and division in this country and -- most importantly -- we need to reject those that promote it.”

Karl pressed Kinzinger on how the committee intends to enforce subpoenas on fellow members of Congress if they refuse to comply.

"I intend, at least, on the committee, to get to a full accounting of the truth," Kinzinger responded. "And if somebody thinks that they can stand up and use -- maneuvers to try to string this investigation out and hope that people lose interest -- at least me, and I know the other members of the committee, are determined that we are going to get to that answer."

"So it may cost you a lot in legal fees to try to resist, but we're going to get to that answer," Kinzinger continued.

Karl also asked Kinzinger whether the committee would subpoena the former president.

"It seems clear that you would want to talk to Donald Trump himself, am I right?" Karl asked.

"We may not even have to talk to Donald Trump to get the information," Kinzinger responded. "There were tons of people around him.”

The Republican House Leadership held a press conference an hour ahead of the hearing on Tuesday where members tried to blame Pelosi for the attack on the Capitol.

"The American people deserve to know the truth that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on January 6th," Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said.

Karl asked Kinzinger about it Sunday.

"They protected Donald Trump from blame here and they're blaming Nancy Pelosi for the fact that Trump supporters invaded the Capitol, and -- including her office. Can you explain to me what they're talking about?" Karl asked.

Kinzinger called Stefanik's comments "insane."

"To me it's mind blowing and it basically shows the desperation to try to derail this," Kinzinger said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Donald Trump builds war chest of $102 million entering 2nd half of 2021

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(WASHINGTON) — Donald Trump has not yet said whether he'll run for president in 2024, but he's already raising a huge war chest in case he does.

New disclosure reports filed Saturday night show that his affiliated political committees have a total of $102 million in cash on hand going into July, after bringing in more than $80 million in the first six months of 2021.

The massive fundraising sum the committees reported include transfers of donations dated December 2020, though the exact amount transferred from last year is unclear.

According to his team, the latest fundraising total, which spans from Jan. 1 through June 30, comes from 3.2 million contributions.

The money will also come in handy in the midterm elections in 2022, where he could pump tens of millions of dollars into a quest to take back the House and Senate from Democrats.

The latest figures are a show of continued fundraising prowess from Trump, whose massive post-election fundraising success has come amid baseless fraud claims about the 2020 presidential election.

Since the election, Trump and his team have solicited hundreds of millions of dollars for an "Election Defense Fund" and seeking support to fight the 2020 results. But little of that has actually gone to such efforts so far, disclosure filings show.

The latest filings show that much of the amount raised by Trump's various committees in the first six months of this year have been saved in the bank, while much of the rest has been used for various fundraising and consulting expenses.

Roughly $3.8 million of the spending from Trump's old presidential campaign committee were labeled as various "recount" expenses, including $2 million in recount legal consulting and $76,000 paid to Giuliani Security & Safety for "recount travel expenses."

Another $5.8 million was reported as general legal consulting fees.

Trump's newly formed PAC also reported giving $1 million in contributions to the America First Policy Institution, affiliated with pro-Trump super PAC America First Action.

More than $80,000 has also gone to lodging at Trump's properties, filings show.

Trump has remained very popular among his base in the first six months of the Biden administration.

Over the past few months, the Republican National Committee as well as multiple Republican candidates vying for key races in the 2022 midterms have fundraised off of Trump, using his name and appealing to his supporters in fundraising emails and messages, hosting fundraisers at Trump properties and even flocking to Mar-a-Lago to feature the former president himself at supporter events.

ABC News' John Santucci contributed to this report.

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With hours until eviction ban expires, lawmakers lean on CDC to act

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(WASHINGTON) -- In a new letter to President Joe Biden and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, progressive members of Congress are calling for the CDC to "leverage every authority available to extend the eviction moratorium" after the House failed to take action Friday to extend the eviction ban set to expire Saturday at midnight.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., along with Reps. Cori Bush, D-Mo., Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., signed on to the letter, seen first by ABC News, urging the administration, which has said its hands are tied by a June Supreme Court ruling, to act.

In June, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the eviction ban to continue through the end of July but signaled in its ruling that it would block any further extensions unless there was "clear and specific congressional authorization."

In a statement Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would have supported the CDC extending the ban, but "the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available," and called on Congress to take action.

That led to criticism by some progressive members of Congress that the call to action for addressing a known problem came too late, just as Congress was about to recess.

House Democrats launched a last-minute effort to pass legislation that would keep the protections in place but failed to pass it before gaveling out of session for recess Friday evening.

In their letter Saturday, the lawmakers said they will continue to work legislatively to address the expiring moratorium, as well as to get billions in previously approved funding out to help renters and landlords -- a process that has gotten off to a slow start.

"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," the lawmakers write.

"Extending the eviction moratorium is a matter of life and death for the communities we represent. The eviction moratorium expires tonight at midnight. We implore you to act with the urgency this moment demands," they add.

Bush, who previously struggled with homelessness, took her protest to Capitol Hill Friday night, sleeping on the steps of the Capitol after Congress failed to act.

"This is personal for me. I lived in a car! I lived out of a car with two babies and my partner. I know what that's like. And I will not sit by and allow it to happen to other people because it happened to me. I won't," Bush told ABC News in an interview Saturday.

"I will show up and I will speak up, not only me -- Congresswoman Ayanna Presley was out here with us last night. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was out here with us last night. We are making sure that people know this is not OK and we won't sit by," she added.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to the Senate Floor Saturday to urge action as well, and later joined Bush outside the Capitol.

"Look, I agree that the eviction moratorium is not a long-term solution. But let me be very clear, it is the right, short-term action is how we keep families safely in their homes while states deliver emergency aid," Warren said.

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House fails to extend eviction moratorium ahead of 6-week recess

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(WASHINGTON) -- House Democrats' attempt to pass an extension of the eviction moratorium via unanimous consent request failed late Friday ahead of a six-week recess. The moratorium will end Saturday.

The measure was objected to by Republicans, none of whom supported the bid.

"We are proud and pleased that, overwhelmingly, House Democrats have understood the hardship caused by rental evictions and support extending the eviction moratorium to October 18, 2021," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Whip James E. Clyburn said in a joint statement after the failed bid. "Unfortunately, not a single Republican would support this measure."

The eleventh-hour attempt to pass an extension came after hours of delay as leaders tried to scramble support for the extension.

In a letter to colleagues earlier Friday, Pelosi said the October date would align with the public health emergency declaration that was issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Previously, Democrats had floated extending the moratorium through the end of the year, but some moderates had complained that the timeframe was too long.

"Congress has the power to direct the CDC to extend the eviction moratorium, as we encourage state and local governments to distribute the money that we allocated," Pelosi wrote.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky noted in a statement last month that the July extension would be the final one.

Pelosi also called on states and localities to distribute the Congress-approved rental assistance, of which there is more than $40 billion remaining in the pot.

Progressives lashed out at the White House and party leaders for their failed last-minute scramble to extend the eviction moratorium.

"Everybody knew this was happening. We were sounding the alarm about this issue," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., told reporters in a gaggle outside Pelosi's office. She was joined by Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who has been outspoken about the time she spent homeless in pushing for the extension of the moratorium.

"The court order was not yesterday, the court order was not Monday, the court order was a month ago," Ocasio Cortez continued. "We had a financial services hearing about it, members were bringing alarms to the administration about it."

"The fact that the [White House] statement came out just yesterday is unacceptable. It is unacceptable," she said. "I want to make that very clear, because the excuses that we've been hearing about it, I do not accept them."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday, "Given the recent spread of the Delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability."

Pelosi told reporters Friday following the defeat that the extension of the eviction moratorium failed in part due to the last-minute notice from the White House about the need for Congress to fix the issue with legislation.

"Really, we only learned about this yesterday. Not really enough time to socialize it within our caucus to build ... the consensus necessary," Pelosi said. "We've had beautiful conversations with our members ... when it comes, though, to the technicalities of legislation, we just need more time."

Hoyer added, "There were obviously some concerns about landlords getting payments, as well as the renters."

Hoyer said an "overwhelming number" of Democrats wanted to pass the extension, but some had concerns about getting payments to landlords who have not been able to enforce rent collections.

"This is really so unfair" to the landlords, housing providers, as well as renters, Pelosi added.

Pelosi warned that further legislative action is possible in August.

On Friday night, after the House gaveled out of session, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who previously struggled with homelessness, announced that she is taking a stand against the rejection of the extension by sleeping outside the Capitol all night.

"Many of my Democratic colleagues chose to go on vacation early today rather than staying to vote to keep people in their homes. I'll be sleeping outside the Capitol tonight. We've still got work to do," Bush tweeted, with a photo of herself outside the building.

She also shared on Twitter a letter she sent to her colleagues, stressing the urgency of extending the eviction moratorium.

"Many of them failed to meet this moment," she wrote, attaching the letter. "I'm inviting them now to join me in sleeping outside the Capitol in a push to extend the moratorium. It's not too late."

Approximately two dozen people gathered outside the Capitol with Bush Friday night, and at 1 a.m. on Saturday, Bush tweeted that the number of supporters was growing.

"Millions are at risk of being removed from their homes, and a Democratic-controlled government has the power to stop it. Extend the eviction moratorium now," she wrote, along with a photo of herself, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

ABC News' Molly Nagle contributed to this report.

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Biden's new vaccine requirement meets pushback from unions who helped elect him

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(WASHINGTON) -- A commitment to American labor helped fuel President Joe Biden's bid for the White House as he promised to be "the most pro-union president you've ever seen." It was an embrace that many of the major federations, associations, teamsters and brotherhoods in the nation requited by endorsing his candidacy.

But the support for Biden's leadership that united more than 50 union groups during the campaign threatened to splinter publicly this week, over mixed reception of his plan to require federal workers get the COVID-19 vaccine or face regular testing and other restrictions.

Even before Biden's announcement, segments of the federal workforce rumbled with dissension. Some groups representing large numbers of workers raised preemptive objections.

"It is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations for the employees we represent," the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) said in a statement the day before Biden made his announcement, adding that they encourage members to "voluntarily get vaccinated."

Following the announcement, an APWU spokesperson underscored that while their workers are government employees, they are an independent agency -- and thus don't have to adhere to Biden's new policy.

A White House spokesperson said that employees of independent agencies are not required to be vaccinated, but are strongly encouraged to do so.

"Make no mistake, we support being vaccinated as the most effective path and means to eliminate the COVID-19 virus, but not at the cost of our Constitutional rights that we protect and hold as self-evident," Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) said. ​​

Biden's new policy is not a mandate but a choice: Either get vaccinated, or face potentially inconvenient restrictions. Federal government employees and contractors onsite will be asked to "attest to their vaccination status" by showing proof. Those who decline to be fully vaccinated, or decline to show proof that they are, must wear a mask at work, social distance and get tested for the virus once or twice a week; they may also face restrictions on official travel.

It all comes as Biden contends with flagging vaccination rates and the delta variant's exponential spread -- both of which threaten hard-fought wins in the fight against COVID.

After the new vaccine policy had been spelled out Thursday, major union groups reacted with a largely tepid response, with many members voicing concerns about personal freedoms, privacy and the policy's practice.

"We have a lot of questions about how this policy will be implemented and how employee rights and privacy will be protected," National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) National President Tony Reardon said in a statement to ABC News. "This approach appears to establish a process for employees to voluntarily disclose their vaccination status."

NTEU represents 150,000 federal employees across 34 departments and agencies. For those employees who wish to keep their vaccination status confidential or choose to remain unvaccinated, Reardon said, "a testing protocol will be established."

The largest union representing federal employees, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), said they expected any new policies to be "properly negotiated with our bargaining units prior to implementation."

"We are seeking details on many aspects of this plan," NTEU's Reardon said. "We will work to ensure employees are treated fairly and this protocol does not create an undue burden on them."

NTEU endorsed Biden's candidacy during the 2020 election, as did AFGE and APWU.

So did National Nurses United (NNU), the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in U.S. history. They represent more than 170,000 members nationwide, including some VA nurses, and while saying vaccination is "critically important," they said they place the greatest emphasis on the importance of "respecting the need for medical and religious accommodations."

"The Biden administration is trying to thread that needle," NNU President Deborah Burger told ABC News. "You have to honor those accommodations, and move forward."

At least one major federation of unions is going ever further than Biden in its stance on vaccines: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Tuesday that he would support a full vaccine mandate.

"It's important, if you are coming back into the workplace, you have to know what's around you. If you come back in and you are not vaccinated, everybody in that workplace is jeopardized," Trumka told C-SPAN. "What we need to do now is to get more people vaccinated, and I think the mandate is a very acceptable way to do that."

The AFL-CIO endorsed Biden during his candidacy, as did one of its largest member unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) -- but this week, the two diverged on the matter of mandates: AFT President Randi Weingarten said that vaccine protocol should be arbitrated in the workplace itself.

"In order for everyone to feel safe and welcome in their workplaces, vaccinations must be negotiated between employers and workers, not coerced," Weingarten said in a statement ahead of Biden's announcement, cautioning that a get-the-shot-or-get-fired protocol would risk losing health care staff at a time when they're most needed, and when "staffing levels are already low from the trauma of the past year."

On Thursday, Biden pleaded for Americans to appreciate how urgent the situation has become.

"It's literally about life and death," Biden said in announcing the policy. "That's what it's about. You know and I know, people talk about freedom. But I learned growing up, from school and my parents: With freedom comes responsibility."

ABC News' Jordyn Phelps, Sarah Kolinovsky and Molly Nagle contributed to this report.

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Newly released notes show Trump pressured DOJ to declare election was 'corrupt'

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(WASHINGTON) -- Handwritten notes from former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue, released Friday by the House Oversight Committee, appear to show that former President Trump tried to pressure the Department of Justice to declare there was significant fraud tainting the 2020 presidential election.

The documents were obtained by the committee as part of its investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The notes are from a December 27, 2020, phone call between Trump and then-Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen.

According to Donoghue's notes, Rosen told Trump that the Justice Department had no power to reverse the outcome of the election.

"Understand that the DOJ can't + won't snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election, doesn't work that way," said Rosen, according to the notes.

"Don't expect you to do that, just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen," Trump replied, per the notes.

At another point in the call, the notes showed Rosen and Donoghue trying to convince Trump that his allegations of voter fraud were false.

"Sir we have done dozens of investig., hundreds of interviews, major allegations are not supported by evid. developed," Donoghue told Trump, per the notes. "We are doing our job. Much of the info you're getting is false."

Trump however would not be swayed.

"'We have an obligation to tell people that this was an illegal, corrupt election," he said, according to the notes.

"These handwritten notes show that President Trump directly instructed our nation's top law enforcement agency to take steps to overturn a free and fair election in the final days of his presidency," House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said in a statement. "The Committee has begun scheduling interviews with key witnesses to investigate the full extent of the former President's corruption, and I will exercise every tool at my disposal to ensure all witness testimony is secured without delay."

The release of the notes comes days after the Justice Department determined that six former Trump Justice Department officials, including Rosen and Donoghue, can participate in Congress' investigation.

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DOJ says Treasury Department must hand over Trump tax information to House committee

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(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel has determined the Treasury Department must hand over former President Donald Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The opinion, posted Friday, says that while the committee "cannot compel the Executive Branch to disclose [tax information] without satisfying the constitutional requirement that the information could serve a legitimate legislative purpose," the Ways and Means Committee in this instance '"invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former President's tax information."

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal first requested six years' worth of Trump's tax returns in April of 2019, in addition to tax returns for eight of Trump's businesses, under a 97-year-old law that requires the Treasury secretary to "furnish" the returns of any taxpayer to the chairman of the tax-writing panel by request.

In explaining the "legislative purpose" of the request, which Neal would need to prove under law in order to secure the returns, Neal said the committee had been "considering legislative proposals and conducting oversight related to our Federal tax laws, including ... the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the Federal tax laws against a President."

As both a candidate and during his presidency, Trump vigorously resisted making his tax returns public, and his Justice Department backed him in his legal fight against the Ways and Means Committee, determining Neal's reasoning didn't amount to a legitimate legislative purpose.

After President Joe Biden took office and the Justice Department assumed new leadership, Rep. Neal renewed his request, resulting in Friday's legal opinion reversing the Trump DOJ's stance.

It's not immediately clear when the Treasury Department would actually hand over Trump's tax returns. A recent filing in the case states that Trump would need to be given 72 hours' notice before his returns are transmitted to the Hill, giving him an opportunity to potentially appeal the decision.

If the committee is provided Trump's tax returns, Neal would be able to designate lawmakers and committee staff to review them in a private setting -- but it would still be a felony to release them publicly. However, the panel could potentially vote to enter the returns into the public record, according to the committee's rules.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reacted to news of the Justice Department's decision in a statement Friday, applauding the administration for delivering "a victory for the rule of law."

"Access to former President Trump's tax returns is a matter of national security," Pelosi said. "The American people deserve to know the facts of his troubling conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president."

In February, eight years of Trump's tax returns were handed over to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance's office following a years-long court battle that escalated all the way to the Supreme Court.

While the returns could be used as evidence in Vance's ongoing criminal investigation of Trump and his company, their public release is restricted by grand jury secrecy rules.

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Women lawmakers introduce bill to require statues of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sandra Day O’Connor at Capitol

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(WASHINGTON) -- Legislation introduced Thursday by a bipartisan group of women senators would honor Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor by requiring statues of them in the U.S. Capitol or on Capitol grounds.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and has 17 co-sponsors. Members of the Democratic Women Caucus and Bipartisan Women’s Caucus also introduced a similar bill in the House on Thursday.

"Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor were trailblazers long before reaching the Supreme Court, opening doors for women at a time when so many insisted on keeping them shut," Klobuchar said. "The Capitol is our most recognizable symbol of Democracy, a place where people from across our country have their voices represented and heard. It is only fitting that we honor their remarkable lives and service to our country by establishing statues in the Capitol."

O’Connor and Ginsburg were the first and second women, respectively, to serve on the Supreme Court. O’Connor, who was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan in 1981, served until she retired in January 2006. Ginsburg was appointed by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 and served until her death last year after suffering from metastatic pancreatic cancer. They served on the court together for 12 years.

"Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg will always be known as dedicated public servants, fierce champions for equality, and accomplished Americans who broke countless barriers in the field of law," Collins said. "Statues in the nation’s capital honoring the first two women to serve on the highest court in the land will serve as fitting tributes to their invaluable contributions to our country."

The Capitol currently has 252 sculptures of men and 14 of women. The most recent statue of a woman is of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, erected in 2013.

If passed, the legislation would require that the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library consider selecting an artist from an underrepresented background to create the statues.

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Biden encourages vaccine incentives, announce requirements for federal workers

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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden is stepping up efforts to get shots in people's arms, including calling on states, territories and local governments to do more to incentivize vaccination by offering $100 to those who get vaccinated and reimbursing small- and medium-sized businesses for offering their employees paid leave to get their family members vaccinated.

He also announced that every federal government employee and onsite contractor will be asked to "attest to their vaccination status," and will require anyone not fully vaccinated to wear a mask at work regardless of where they live, social distance and get tested once or twice a week. Employees can also face restrictions on official travel.

Biden was also directing the Department of Defense to look into how and when they will add COVID-19 vaccination to the list of required vaccinations for members of the military, according to a fact sheet that was released to reporters.

Ahead of the president's announcement, some groups representing large numbers of federal workers -- including law enforcement and postal workers -- raised some early objections.

"As an association representing those men and women charged with protecting the Constitutional rights of all Americans, including the right to privacy and choice, we are concerned by any move that would mandate the COVID-19 vaccine among federal employees," Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said in a statement.

The statement also asked that the administration work collaboratively with the association and other federal employee groups to incentivize workers to be vaccinated.

Chad Hooper, the executive director of the Professional Managers Association -- formed in 1981 by IRS managers -- implored all of its members, their staff and eligible Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible, but highlighted that any mandate imposed on the entire workforce would be the first of its kind.

"Consistent with vaccines for other illnesses, such as measles or influenza, PMA believes that agency leadership should have the discretion to determine whether any, some, or all of their staff must be vaccinated against COVID-19," Hooper said in a statement.

"At this time, no COVID-19 vaccine has received full approval from the FDA, and this may be contributing to vaccine hesitancy across our country. We must ask the administration to craft any such mandate with care and consideration of our members' individual contraindications as well as their closely held personal and religious beliefs," the statement continued.

Pfizer, Moderna and the Johnson and Johnson vaccines were granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), but the FDA is facing pressure to issue full authorization of the vaccines, which could open the door to mandates in schools, and the military.

"The FDA recognizes that vaccines are key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and is working as quickly as possible to review applications for full approval," FDA spokesperson Alison Hunt said in a statement.

ABC News' Jordyn Phelps and Lauren King contributed to this report.

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Congress passes emergency security funding for Capitol Police, National Guard

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(WASHINGTON) — The Senate swiftly passed the $2.1B emergency security supplemental bill Thursday with a rare unanimous vote in the Senate and only 11 House members voting against it.

The bill now heads to the president for his signature.

The move staves off critical funding cuts that both the U.S. Capitol Police and National Guard were expected to enact following weeks of congressional inaction. Both forces were crushed by the emergency needs in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection, each relying on Congress to reimburse them in the months after the attack.

The bill provides $521 million to reimburse the National Guard for the cost of deployment to Capitol Hill and roughly $70 million to the Capitol Police to cover expenses incurred in response to the attack, according to the bill's summary.

An additional $300 million will be used to bolster safeguards for the Capitol complex, including funds for window and door upgrades and the installation of new security cameras.

But some Republican lawmakers argued that after spending trillions to battle the pandemic, it would be irresponsible to spend billions more without enacting spending cuts to cover the expenses.

The emergency supplemental bill also has $1.125 billion to cover the Afghanistan Special Immigrant Visa program -- a little less than what the White House requested -- to provide asylum to allies there who aided the U.S. mission and now face retribution from a resurgent Taliban.

The bill makes specific changes to the visa program, including increasing the number of authorized visas by 8,000 and lowering an employment eligibility requirement from two years to one.

Sen Mike Braun, R-Ind., said, "We need to protect our National Guard -- and we will. And we need to protect our allies who kept our troops safe, and we will. Emergencies arise and the biggest threat to dealing with them in my opinion is fiscal irresponsibility in D.C. We could have easily paid for the major parts of this legislation with offsets within the DOD."

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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White House unveils new strategy to address 'root causes' of migration

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(WASHINGTON) -- The Biden administration on Thursday announced a new strategic framework aimed at reducing and managing conditions in Central America that have caused unprecedented levels of migration in recent years.

The strategy resembles much of what the administration has already proposed and focuses on reducing poverty, combating corruption and addressing violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The administration previously dedicated $4 billion in financial support to the region, later saying that substantial portions of the money would not go to Northern Triangle governments and instead would be distributed among nonprofits and aid organizations.

Specifically, the five-point plan aims to address economic instability, establish anti-corruption measures with the involvement of U.S. officials, prioritize human rights and labor rights, counter and prevent gang violence and other organized crime while also targeting gender-based violence.

"We're not seeking to end migration," a senior administration official told reporters. "It's part of the fabric of this region, we have so many familial cultural ties to Central America. But we're seeking to change the ways in which people migrate, provide an alternative to the criminal smuggling, smuggling and trafficking rings, and to give people access to opportunity and protection through safe legal channels, safe legal pathways."

The strategy is being led by Vice President Kamala Harris who was tasked by Biden earlier this year with addressing the root causes of migration. In announcing the new framework, Harris said the United Nations and Mexico, among others, have committed support.

The administration is also looking to countries like Canada and Costa Rica, one official said, in an effort to provide more options for asylum and refuge.

The announcement comes as Biden continues to try to unwind the immigration enforcement policies of his predecessor, including recently making it easier for migrants to seek humanitarian relief. The Department of Justice announced this week the reversal of another Trump-era policy that immigrant advocates, student organizations and law professors said was part of the prior administration’s limiting of humanitarian protections.

Attorney General Merrick Garland formally rescinded a decision from his predecessor, Attorney General William Barr, which required the Board of Immigration appeals to completely re-decide immigration petitions and asylum cases even if a defendant had made progress in establishing their case. The Barr decision, now reversed, was also expected to exacerbate the growing backlog of cases in immigration court.

A group of more than 350 law firms, professors and advocacy organizations called on the Biden administration earlier this year to repeal a series of decisions made under the Trump administration which limited avenues for migrants to receive a grant of asylum. Monday’s announcement was the final decision to be reversed in that series.

The Biden administration had already reversed a decision from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions that domestic violence and gang violence were not grounds for asylum claims.

The new strategy from Harris also places an emphasis on making humanitarian relief opportunities available in the home countries of would-be migrants. It’s an essential component of reducing the migratory traffic at the U.S. southern border, which has become flooded with asylum-seeking children and families in recent months.

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With eviction moratorium expiring Saturday, Biden calls on Congress to act

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(WASHINGTON) —The Biden administration on Thursday called on Congress to extend a federal freeze on evictions set to expire on Saturday, arguing its hands are tied by the Supreme Court.

The new statement comes as the country grapples with a COVID-19 surge fueled by the highly contagious delta variant.

The moratorium, essentially a nationwide ban on evictions, was put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last September. In June, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the eviction ban to continue through the end of July but signaled in its ruling that it would block any further extensions unless there was "clear and specific congressional authorization.”

Amid public outcry, House Democratic leadership was looking to possibly take legislative action by the end of the week, before legislators leave for a six-week recess, to extend the freeze until the end of December, ABC News was told. Senate Democrats were also preparing legislation to extend the moratorium for the same duration, according to a Democratic aide.

"Given the recent spread of the Delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday.

"Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available. In June, when CDC extended the eviction moratorium until July 31st, the Supreme Court’s ruling stated that 'clear and specific congressional authorization (via new legislation) would be necessary for the CDC to extend the moratorium past July 31,'" she added, citing Justice Brett Kavanaugh's concurring opinion.

By a vote of 5 to 4, the court rejected a request from two associations of relators in Alabama and Georgia and group of property management companies seeking an emergency injunction against the CDC, which imposed the moratorium.

The Biden administration had previously said it would not extend the moratorium beyond July, so the Court allowed the moratorium to remain in place, though Justice Kavanaugh made clear that he and the other conservative justices believe the CDC exceeded its authority.

"In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling," Psaki continued, "the President calls on Congress to extend the eviction moratorium to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay."

In the meantime, Biden has asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture and Department of Veterans Affairs to each extend their respective eviction bans through the end of September, which Psaki said "will provide continued protection for households living in federally-insured, single-family properties.”

"The President has also asked these and other departments to do everything in their power so that owners and operators of federally-assisted and financed rental housing seek Emergency Rental Assistance to make themselves whole while keeping families in secure and safe housing -- before moving toward eviction," she added.

Psaki described the federal eviction moratorium as a "critical backstop to prevent hard-pressed renters and their families who lost jobs or income due to the COVID-19 pandemic from being evicted for nonpayment of rent."

"This moratorium prevented hundreds of thousands of Americans from experiencing the heartbreak, homelessness, and health risks that too often emanate from evictions -- particularly during a pandemic," she said.

The Biden administration has faced mounting pressure from some Democratic lawmakers to address the looming deadline amid growing concerns that vaccinated people can spread the delta variant to others -- evidence of which has prompted the CDC to advise vaccinated Americans to wear face masks indoors in areas with high or substantial levels of COVID-19 transmission.

"I urge the Biden Administration to extend the CDC’s eviction moratorium. It is reckless not to extend the deadline when rental assistance funds have not gone out fast enough to protect people. Eviction filings have already spiked in anticipation of the moratorium being lifted," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted on July 23.

When asked during Tuesday's press briefing if the Biden administration was discussing an extension of the nationwide eviction ban, Psaki had little to add.

"I don't have anything to preview for you at this point in time," she said. "But certainly, we will be watching this closely," she added, citing "ongoing discussions about how we can continue to help renters."

ABC News' Mariam Khan and Trish Turner contributed to this report.

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Biden's federal workforce vaccine mandate could inspire companies to follow suit

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(WASHINGTON) -- The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal workers could set the groundwork for more private sector organizations to follow along. But it also is likely to trigger an avalanche of lawsuits from those who say required vaccinations infringe on the civil liberties of Americans.

President Joe Biden is expected to announce on Thursday a plan requiring all federal workers to be vaccinated or comply with "stringent COVID-19 protocols like mandatory mask wearing -- even in communities not with high or substantial spread -- and regular testing."

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that employers can require their employees to be vaccinated with exceptions being granted for religious and medical reasons.

Federal law does not bar organizations from mandating coronavirus vaccines even as the publicly available vaccines have yet to receive full authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, according to a Justice Department memo.

But some legal scholars say that full approval from the FDA would give companies increased legal cover from employees who refuse to comply with a vaccine mandate.

“There are many companies that are worried about pushback litigation and are waiting for full FDA approval,” said Larry Gostin, a professor of global health law at the Georgetown University Law Center and director of the World Health Organization Center on Public Health Law and Human Rights.

Full FDA vaccine approval is expected in September, according to a federal official. Normally, full approval takes up to a year following the submission of all required data.

Gostin added that employers also have the right to terminate employees who do not comply with their company’s vaccine mandate.

“A worker doesn’t have a legal or ethical entitlement to go unvaccinated or unmasked in a crowded workplace,” he said. “They can make decisions for their own health and well-being, but they can’t pose risk to others. Somebody who is unvaccinated and isn’t tested and unmasked poses a very substantial risk of transferring a very dangerous, if not deadly, disease.”

Similar to the legal arguments over state mask mandates, the debate surrounding vaccine mandates is an issue widely expected to end up in court.

“America is a very litigious society and there will be lawsuits,” said Gostin. “But employers and particularly hospitals are on very firm legal grounding and will win those lawsuits.”

While the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal workers could inspire similar moves from large employers to local governments, some states are taking offensive measures.

Several states including Arkansas, Tennessee, Utah, and Montana have already passed legislation banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates and vaccine passports, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.

And with return to school quickly approaching for millions of U.S. students, some legislatures have even sought to prohibit required COVID-19 vaccines for school attendance.

The Federal Law Enforcement Officer’s Association, which consists of FBI agents and U.S. Marshalls, however, sees the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal employees as an attack on civil liberties.

“Forcing people to undertake a medical procedure is not the American way and is a clear civil rights violation no matter how proponents may seek to justify it,” said Larry Cosme, the association’s president, in a statement.

The idea of employer vaccine mandates is something that many public health experts increasingly agree on. A large number of companies are still allowing employees back to the office based entirely on voluntary employee disclosure of vaccination status as opposed to requiring actual proof of vaccination.

“An honor system can work in a situation where you don’t have an epidemic,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. “We need to realize that we are in an emergency, and we have to do everything possible to ensure that the vast majority of people get vaccinated.”

Google, Apple and Facebook all postponed their return to office plans for mid-October as the delta variant continues to drive a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations nationwide.

Google's decision to require staff in their offices to be vaccinated comes after similar announcements impacting government workers in New York and California to curb the spread of the delta variant.

“The timing for these vaccine mandates is right and it’s actually a bit long overdue,” said El-Sadr.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Republicans, Democrats battle over new House mask mandate

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(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday battled over the new House of Representatives' new mask mandate, with more than a dozen Republicans voting twice without masks, despite new guidance from the Capitol physician aimed at preventing fast-spreading COVID-19 infections.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy "such a moron" Wednesday morning when asked about his criticism of the new mask mandate in the House.

"That's the decision from the Capitol physician, a mandate from him," Pelosi told reporters. "I have nothing to say about that, except we honor it."

Asked about McCarthy saying the decision was not "based on science," she replied, "He's such a moron," as she got into her car.

In a directive issued Tuesday night, The Office of the Attending Physician, Dr. Brian Monahan, said it was now required that all members and staff wear "medical-grade" masks throughout the House, unless members are speaking in the halls of the House or individuals are alone.

Members and staff will once again be prohibited from stepping on the floor to vote without a mask, or risk incurring fines.

The directive cited the increasing threat from the delta variant and noted House members travel weekly to and from areas of both high and low rates of disease spread. It also mentioned the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask guidance for vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in where transmission is high or substantial, as well as recommending universal masking in schools.

"The same bureaucratic ‘public health experts’ who completely upended our society by pushing lockdowns and yearlong school closures now want to force Americans to return to pre-vaccine control measures. By forcing vaccinated Americans to return to masks, the Biden administration is not only casting doubt on a safe and effective vaccine, but contradicting why vaccines exist," McCarthy said in a statement in response. "Make no mistake — the threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.”

After meeting with the top doctor on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon, McCarthy took to the House floor to decry the return of the House mask mandate and to slam Pelosi for calling him a "moron."

"Today, the Speaker who didn't know her own science, and said names to people, broke her own rules. Twice today, I saw the speaker in a crowded room without a mask. Less than 24 hours after imposing a mask mandate," he said.

"You don't know the facts or the science!" he said. "Do you know what frustrates Americans the most? Hypocrisy."

McCarthy claimed the vaccination rate for members of Congress is over 85 percent. "And, as of today, the transmission rate on the Capitol campus is less than 1 percent," he continued. "Well, the facts would tell us this isn't a hot spot, so the CDC recommendation doesn't apply to us!"

Republicans derailed the House floor schedule twice earlier on Wednesday, by forcing procedural votes protesting the new requirements.

At one point, the House was forced to vote on a motion to adjourn offered by Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas to disrupt proceedings, ostensibly over the mask mandate.

"This sham of an institution is doing nothing for the American people!" Roy yelled.

"We have people infected with Covid coming across the southern border,” he added, demanding that Dr. Fauci appear before Congress to testify about natural immunity. "Which is it? Vaccines or masks?"

"I don't believe that masks make any difference," Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., told ABC News when asked why he wasn't wearing a mask. "If they’ve been vaccinated, what are they worried about a threat from me?”

When asked if he had been vaccinated, he said, "I don't answer that question because it's no one's business."

Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, another unmasked member, said he had "double immunity" from the vaccine and a prior COVID-19 infection.

"I'll pay the fines, I'm not wearing a damn mask," he said.

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., another unmasked and unvaccinated member, got into a shouting match with liberal Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., who told him to "get vaccinated," and continued the feud on Twitter.

"You can't compel people to put something in their own body. People have to decide to do that for themselves," Donalds said. "I'm 42, healthy, and I already had COVID."

Asked about his colleague Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., who recently disclosed he had COVID after believing he had previosly contracted it, Donalds said, "The reality is that people are going to make their own decisions."

As for the possibility of spreading the disease to vulnerable people with preexisting conditions, he said, "Anybody would be concerned about that."

"What we're doing is shifting the goalposts to eliminating COVID. And I want to eliminate COVID but we can't be just shifting the goalposts on every American," Donalds said. "If you have symptoms, go get tested. If you test positive, go isolate. This is not hard.”

Among the Republicans bristling at the return of the mask mandate on Wednesday was longtime opponent Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who was seen throwing a mask back at a House staffer who offered her one.

According to two people who saw the exchange, Boebert threw a mask back at a staffer on the House floor and refused to put one on to comply with the latest rules. One person said she threw the mask on the ground.

Boebert’s office did not dispute the exchange, saying in a statement, "Rep. Boebert refuses to comply with Speaker Pelosi’s anti-science, totalitarian mask mandate. When offered a mask, she returned it with a quick slide across the table."

Boebert could receive a $500 fine for breaking the new mandate. GOP Reps. Roy, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who also appeared on the floor without masks, could be fined as well.

Members can appeal the fines to the ethics committee, and receive $2500 fines for subsequent offenses.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story misattributed a quote from Rep. Byron Donalds to Rep. Clay Higgins due to an editing error. It also mistakenly reported that Higgins had been hospitalized with COVID-19. We regret the errors.

ABC News' Mariam Khan contributed to this report.

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