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Problem Solvers Caucus, Biden Officials Meeting on Infrastructure Bill

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Leaders of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus will meet with key White House officials Wednesday while the administration continues its push to enlist moderate support of President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal. 

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and counselor Steve Ricchetti are to receive the caucus’ co-chairs, Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., reports Axios. 

A White House official said Republican Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, and Dusty Johnson of South Dakota will attend the meeting, as well as Democrat Reps. Abigail Spanberger of New Jersey, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, and Tom Suozzi of New York. 

“The American people want us to work together across party lines,” Gottheimer told Axios. “We actually have to use our bipartisan muscles or they will continue to atrophy.”

Biden’s “American Jobs Plan” though, has come under fire from Republicans because it reaches further than covering traditional infrastructure and reaches into areas like clean energy and features corporate tax hikes as its funding source. 

The Problem Solvers Caucus wrote a letter to Biden last month outlining its priorities, which include work on COVID-19, infrastructure, broadband expansion, small business and innovation incentives, immigration reform and border security, debt and the deficit, health care, labor and the workforce, police reform, energy and the climate, and election security.

Wednesday, the members are expecting to discuss, in addition to the president’s infrastructure bill, other topics including immigration reform, mental health, and veterans issues.  

Over the weekend, several representatives from the group visited the southern border, and Fitzpatrick told Axios the group intends to make immigration one of its priority issues after progress is made concerning the infrastructure bill. 

The report did not indicate that Biden will attend the meeting. According to a White House statement, the president early Wednesday will accompany first lady Jill Biden to an appointment for a “common medical procedure” at a Washington, D.C., outpatient center, after which both will return to the White House to resume their normal schedules. The nature of the first lady’s procedure has not been disclosed, reports The Associated Press.  

Later on Wednesday, Biden is scheduled to address the nation on plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. He then plans to visit Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, where many U.S. service members who died in Afghanistan and Iraq are buried, according to the White House. 

The president on Monday met with another bipartisan group of eight lawmakers, four from each party, in the Oval Office, telling them he’s willing to negotiate on his infrastructure plan and how it would be funded. 

The lawmakers at Monday’s meeting included, on the Democrat side, Sens. Maria Cantwell of Washington and Alex Padilla of California and Reps. Donald M. Payne Jr. of New Jersey and David E. Price of North Carolina, reports The New York Times. Republicans who attended were Sens. Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Reps. Garret Graves of Louisiana and Don Young of Alaska.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is pushing to pass the bill in her chamber by July 4. 

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DeSantis: Unemployed Floridians Will Have to Start Looking for Work

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is set to reinstate a requirement for those receiving unemployment benefits in the state to prove they’re looking for work.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, DeSantis a Republican said those claiming benefits will likely have to start showing proof they looked for work when an executive order waiving a job-search requirement ends on May 29.

Without the waiver, the state required people receiving benefits to reach out to five prospective employers each week, the newspaper said.

“We suspended that (requirement) last year at this time because, quite frankly, there weren’t jobs,” DeSantis said on Wednesday.

“I think now we’re in just a different situation, you have a surplus of jobs, particularly in restaurant, lodging, hospitality, that people want to hire. I mean, you see the signs all over the place. Look, that’s a good problem to have. But we also just want to make sure, like, look, if you’re really unemployed, can’t get a job, that’s one thing. But making sure that you’re doing your due diligence to look for work, and making sure those incentives align, better.”

And WTSP in Tampa quoted the governor as saying: “Normally when you’re getting unemployment, the whole idea is that it’s temporary and you need to be looking for work in order to be able to get off of unemployment and obviously work because that’s what we want everyone to do. Well, when COVID hit, it was a disaster, so we suspended those job search requirements.

“We absolutely could put more people to work, the demand is there, businesses want to hire more people and I think we’ll be able to go in that direction very soon.”

The Times noted that Florida’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in March compared to 13.8% in April 2020 when the pandemic forced many business to close.

Under President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue package the government is supplementing weekly jobless benefits by $300 a week. The figure is in addition to the average state unemployment payment of about $340.

Larry Kudlow, who served as a top economic adviser under former President Donald Trump, has said that Biden’s economic relief package discourages some people from trying to find work.

During an interview on Fox News, Kudlow maintained a lot of economists on both side of the aisle believe “the more unemployment insurance you poke out, the more unemployment you’re going to have. And, secondly, the longer the unemployment insurance lasts, then the longer unemployment is going to last.”

And Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., wants to know what the Labor Department is doing to combat and detect fraud and abuse of enhanced federal unemployment benefits.

He made his request in a Wednesday letter to Larry Turner, acting inspector general for the Labor Department.

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Biden Leaves Word ‘God’ Out of National Day of Prayer

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The White House issued a proclamation on the National Day of Prayer, but President Joe Biden left out “God.”

Fox News noted the glaring omission of any reference to God in Biden’s prepared remarks.

The administration of former President Barack Obama mentioned “God” in the proclamation on the National Day of Prayer, Fox News reported.

Biden references Americans’ “many religions and belief systems” and the “power of prayer.”

“Throughout our history, Americans of many religions and belief systems have turned to prayer for strength, hope, and guidance,” Biden’s proclamation began. “Prayer has nourished countless souls and powered moral movements — including essential fights against racial injustice, child labor and infringement on the rights of disabled Americans. Prayer is also a daily practice for many, whether it is to ask for help or strength, or to give thanks over blessings bestowed.”

It was noted by Fox News that Biden used God in his in-person remarks, crediting the vaccine development “by the grace of God.”

Former President Trump mentioned “God” 5 times in 2017, 5 times in 2018, 7 times in 2019, and 11 times in 2020, while Obama referenced God twice in his 2011 proclamation, Fox News reported.

“Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect their fellow citizens,” Obama said in 2011, according to Fox News. “And let us ask God for the sustenance and guidance for all of us to meet the great challenges we face as a Nation.

“I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith or conscience directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I ask all people of faith to join me in asking God for guidance, mercy and protection for our Nation,” Obama said.

The National Day of Prayer has traditionally been the first Thursday in May.

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Trump Blasts Facebook, Twitter, Google Actions as ‘Total Disgrace’

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Former President Donald Trump fired back at the world’s social media giants Wednesday, after Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the site’s decision to suspend his account.

Trump said the actions of Facebook, Twitter and Google are a “total disgrace” and the tech companies should pay a political price.

“What Facebook, Twitter, and Google have done is a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our Country,” Trump said in a statement accusing the companies of violating his free speech rights.

“Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before. The People of our Country will not stand for it!

“These corrupt social media companies must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”

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