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Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today spoke out against a resolution affirming U.S. support for Israel's military action in Gaza. While a firm supporter of the people of Israel and a critic of rocket attacks by Hamas militants, Congressman Kucinich led opposition against the incomplete resolution.
H.Res. 34, "Supporting Israel in Its Battle with Terrorist Hamas," is incomplete because it does not address the humanitarian crisis of Palestinians in Gaza, fails to insist on an immediate ceasefire, and neglects Israel's potential violation of the Arms Export and Control Act which governs U.S. arms exports to foreign countries.
The Arms Export Control Act (AECA) requires that each nation that receives a shipment of arms from the United States must certify that the weapons are used for internal security and legitimate self-defense, and that their use does not lead to an escalation of conflict. Congressman Kucinich informed the administration of Israel's possible violation of AECA through Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on January 6, 2009. Kucinich has yet to receive a response.
The full text of Congressman Kucinich's statement follows:
January 9, 2009
"In Gaza, the United Nations gave the Israeli army the coordinates of a UN school, and the school was then hit by Israeli tank fire, killing about forty. The UN put flags on emergency vehicles, coordinating the movements of those vehicles with the Israeli military, and the vehicles came under attack, killing emergency workers. The Israeli army evacuated 100 Palestinians to shelter, and then bombed the shelter, killing thirty people.
"Emergency workers have been blocked by the Israeli army from reaching hundreds of injured persons. Today's Washington Post: 100 survivors rescued in Gaza from roads blocked from Israelis. Relief agencies fear more are trapped, days after neighborhood was shelled. Today, the U.S. Congress is going to be asked to pass a resolution supporting Israel's actions in Gaza. I'm hopeful that we don't support the inhumanity that has been repeatedly expressed by the Israeli army. The U.S. abstained from a UN call for a ceasefire. We must take a new direction in the Middle East, and that new direction must be mindful of the inhumane conditions in Gaza.
Dennis Kucinich is an American politician. A U.S. Representative from Ohio from 1997 to 2013, he was also a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States in 2004 and 2008.
"Further evidence that this was never about the debt. It's about squeezing families to protect billionaires."
Republican negotiators are reportedly close to securing as much as $10 billion in cuts to recently approved Internal Revenue Service funding as part of a debt ceiling deal with the White House, a development that critics said further shows the GOP's ironclad commitment to shielding wealthy tax cheats as the party targets spending on aid programs for poor families.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) noted last month that cutting the $80 billion IRS funding boost that Democratic lawmakers approved as part of the Inflation Reduction Act would add to the federal budget deficit by constraining the agency's ability to audit the tax returns of rich individuals and corporations.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) argued Thursday that the Republican push for IRS funding cuts—which the Biden White House appears poised to accept as part of a broader agreement to raise the debt limit for two years—shows that the GOP is only "pretending to care about the deficit."
"Republicans are using the debt ceiling to hold the economy hostage," Warren wrote on Twitter. "One of their hostage demands? Cutting funding for the IRS to track down the hidden cash of wealthy tax cheats—funding that will raise as much as $1 trillion. Terrible idea."
Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, echoed Warren, writing that "cutting [money] for the IRS is, simply, enabling tax cheating by the super-rich and corporations."
"That's the Republicans' top priority," Weissman added.
\u201cThe GOP is proposing cuts to IRS in #debtceiling talks.\n\nThis would allow billionaires to evade their taxes, which, wait for it\u2026ADDS to the deficit. \n\nFurther evidence that this was never abt the debt. Its about squeezing families to protect billionaires.\nhttps://t.co/qHw9Ka1umG\u201d— Melissa Boteach (@Melissa Boteach) 1685053140
The New York Timesreported Thursday that the Biden White House and Republican negotiators are currently discussing a deal under which "the IRS money would essentially shift to nondefense discretionary spending, allowing Democrats to avoid further cuts in programs like education and environmental protection."
The White House reportedly believes such a shift and other unspecified "budgetary maneuvers" could help lessen the pain of a two-year spending cap that Biden administration officials are negotiating with Republicans, who have demanded massive cuts to aid programs that help low-income Americans afford food, housing, and healthcare.
According toThe Washington Post, "negotiators agreed to slightly decrease spending on these domestic programs—giving House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) a key victory—while redirecting money from other parts of the federal budget, such as the IRS funding, which would effectively keep domestic spending flat for next year."
"Spending on veterans and the military will rise in line with the increases sought by the president's budget," the Post reported.
Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project, rejected the notion that the spending cuts outlined in the latest reporting on the debt ceiling talks would be "modest."
"Any deal is a disaster since most government departments and agencies are currently severely underfunded," Hauser said in a statement. "'Non-defense discretionary spending' is a bloodless way to refer to the agencies required to ensure clean air, safe food, safe workplaces, and protect Americans from all forms of corporate abuse."
Hauser stressed that even if the White House is able to prevent domestic spending levels from falling below this year's levels, "it's likely that inflation will undercut the budget's actual spending power by 7-10%."
"Democrats should stand strong and tell Republicans that they refuse to make it easier for the rich to cheat on their taxes."
No deal has been finalized, and key issues—including the GOP push to attach new work requirements to aid programs—have yet to be resolved.
But outside progressives are raising serious concerns about the details of the emerging agreement, including the spending caps, the insertion of permitting reforms craved by the oil and gas industry, and the IRS funding cuts.
"It would be absurd and counterproductive for President Biden to give in to GOP demands to weaken the IRS' ability to catch wealthy tax cheats and prevent corporate tax fraud," said Igor Volsky, the executive director of Groundwork Action. "Republicans have made it clear that they aren't actually focused on the deficit and debt or they wouldn't have rejected raising revenue by closing tax loopholes used by the wealthy and well-connected."
"But to be clear: Weakening the IRS' ability to go after rich tax cheats would actually increase the deficit and push the burden onto the backs of workers and families," Volsky continued. "Democrats should stand strong and tell Republicans that they refuse to make it easier for the rich to cheat on their taxes."
"What should be off the table are children in America, where we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country."
Sanders (I-Vt.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, toldCNN's Anderson Cooper that Republicans have engaged in "an outrageous display of extremist politics" by "holding hostage the entire world economy unless they get what they want."
"Right now in America, you got a middle class which is shrinking, you got 60% of our people living paycheck-to-paycheck, childcare system in disarray, healthcare system collapsing, housing—all over the country people can't afford housing," Sanders said. "You don't cut programs that working people desperately need."
The senator appeared on the network shortly after The New York Timesreported that top White House officials and GOP lawmakers were nearing an agreement that would cut non-military discretionary spending or keep it roughly at this year's levels—a real-term cut when accounting for inflation.
Under the emerging deal, the debt ceiling would be raised for two years, temporarily preventing an economy-wrecking default.
According to the Times, the deal would "roll back $10 billion of the $80 billion Congress approved last year for an IRS crackdown on high earners and corporations that evade taxes, though that provision was still under discussion."
"As the deal stood on Thursday, the IRS money would essentially shift to nondefense discretionary spending, allowing Democrats to avoid further cuts in programs like education and environmental protection, according to people familiar with the pending agreement," the Times reported. "The plan had yet to be finalized, and the bargainers continued to haggle over crucial details that could make or break any deal."
\u201cCutting $ for the IRS is, simply, enabling tax cheating by the super rich and corporations.\n\nThat\u2019s the Republicans\u2019 top priority. https://t.co/fADMVIk1My\u201d— Robert Weissman (@Robert Weissman) 1685058621
Sanders told Cooper on Thursday that all he knows of the possible deal is what he read in the Times, and that "it may be right, it may be wrong."
The senator stressed that "there are ways that you can cut government spending without doing it on the backs of the most vulnerable people in this country" and slammed Republicans for stonewalling efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy, rein in out-of-control military spending, and slash prescription drug costs.
"It's not good enough for them to say, 'Oh, we get huge campaign contributions from billionaires, we don't want to tax them. Oh, we love the military-industrial complex, we don't want to cut military spending. Off the table,'" Sanders said. "Well, it's not off the table. What should be off the table are children in America, where we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country. That should be off the table. The needs of elderly people who are struggling to pay for their prescription drugs—that should be off the table."
Asked about his call for President Joe Biden to consider invoking the 14th Amendment to avert a catastrophic default, Sanders said such a move would easily be preferable to "the Republican approach" of "massive cuts for the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor."
"If the Republicans are prepared to hold the entire world economy hostage and say, 'Hey Mr. President, you've got no alternative but to make massive cuts to programs for vulnerable people—you have no alternative.' Well, the president does have an alternative."
Sanders added that allowing Republicans to "get away with holding the economy hostage" would set "a precedent for years to come."
"GOP wants to add bureaucratic red tape to make it even harder for people who are hungry to get food assistance."
It's still far from clear that Republicans and the White House will strike a debt ceiling agreement before June 1, the day the Treasury Department says the government could run out of money to pay its obligations. A number of key disputes remain, including the GOP push for work requirements for aid programs—an effort that has drawn strong pushback from progressives.
"GOP wants to add bureaucratic red tape to make it even harder for people who are hungry to get food assistance that averages only about $6/day. Really?" Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted Thursday. "None of this saves any money. It's just cruel. POTUS must reject these demands in any negotiation."
It's also not certain that any eventual deal can gain enough support to get through Congress, with far-right Republicans threatening to tank an agreement that doesn't enact sufficiently steep federal spending cuts.
House Democrats, too, are reportedly unhappy with the emerging outlines of the deal.
According toPunchbowl, the top three House Democrats—Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.)—warned the White House on Thursday that "it can't just assume 80 to 100 Democrats will back any Biden-McCarthy deal."
One unnamed Democratic aide told the outlet that the deal currently in the works is "'shitty enough' that Democrats don't feel compelled to back it and it's not good enough for the GOP to bring 200 Republicans on board."
"The recent catastrophic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and the crash of two Boeing 737 Max jets demonstrate the real-world consequences of inadequate or capriciously enforced safety regulation and oversight. We can't add radiological releases from U.S. nuclear plants to this list."
In the wake of another nerve-wracking outage at a Russian-held Ukrainian nuclear energy facility this week, 90 groups and dozens of individuals wrote to U.S. President Joe Biden expressing "grave concerns regarding security at U.S. nuclear power plants."
"We commend and wholeheartedly support your administration's much-needed efforts to make nuclear plants in the Ukraine war zone more secure in the face of daunting political and military challenges," states the letter, spearheaded by Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) and sent to the White House Wednesday. "This work protects not only Ukraine but the entire planet."
"Our concern is that the security of U.S. nuclear power plants does not seem to be receiving a commensurate amount of attention, neither from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), nor the administration," the coalition explained. "Worse, your administration is also seeking to expand the nuclear industry in dangerous ways that compound nuclear plant security threats."
"Attacks on nuclear facilities and other external dangers they face are credible threats and could happen here."
While the letter argues that given the associated security threats, "federal funding should prioritize scaling up renewables, storage, efficiency, and transmission upgrades, so as to phase out nuclear power as quickly as possible," it also calls for immediate action.
"Nuclear plant security MUST begin at home," the groups declared, urging the U.S. government to "learn the lesson" from Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) since Russian forces invaded Ukraine early last year—that "attacks on nuclear facilities and other external dangers they face are credible threats and could happen here."
"The recent catastrophic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and the crash of two Boeing 737 Max jets demonstrate the real-world consequences of inadequate or capriciously enforced safety regulation and oversight," the organizations asserted. "We can't add radiological releases from U.S. nuclear plants to this list."
The coalition also sent the president a separate document detailing security concerns and recommendations for U.S. facilities, but the letter highlights the top takeaways:
The coalition is calling on the Biden administration to enforce "enhanced, mandatory security measures for existing nuclear facilities and spent nuclear fuel to make them less vulnerable to attack," at the cost of licensees, not U.S. taxpayers.
The groups' recommendations include changes to storage policies. The letter says that "instead of transporting it to proposed CISFs, most spent nuclear fuel should be stored at reactor sites using hardened onsite storage (HOSS)."
\u201cHoltec International, a private company that builds casks to store nuclear waste, was given a license to store the nation's entire high-level nuclear waste in NM. We spoke with Director of the Rio Grande Chapter of Sierra Club, Camilla Feibelman about it.\nhttps://t.co/vB4TEm4tAe\u201d— KRWG Public Media (@KRWG Public Media) 1684767759
In a statement, Kevin Kamps—a radioactive waste specialist with Beyond Nuclear, which signed the letter to Biden—took aim at Holtec International, a U.S.-based company that owns a proposed New Mexico CISF, has handled spent fuel in Ukraine, and recently signed a contract to deploy small modular nuclear reactors in the war-torn country.
"Holtec's performance in handling spent fuel has been abysmal in Ukraine and similarly abysmal in the United States," said Kamps. "That's one illustration among others that the problem is not limited to Ukraine, and that U.S. nuclear plants are subject to security threats we need to start addressing."
NEIS director Dave Kraft asked, "What sense does it make to send tens of millions of dollars to Ukraine to enhance security and safety, when our own 92 operating reactors and 90,000 tons of high-level radioactive wastes are not secure?"
"What sense does it make to sprinkle the next-generation micro- and mini-nuke reactors around the nation and the world, boasting they can be mobile on flatbed trucks or housed in factories or Walmarts, when it is daily demonstrated that silent drones are capable of turning heavily armored tanks and military vehicles into shredded heaps of burning metal?" he added. "This is the real world nuclear power now exists in, and this administration is not prepared to provide the safety and security necessary for it to survive."
\u201cThe United Nations\u2019 nuclear watchdog is pushing for a last-minute agreement to secure Ukraine\u2019s huge atomic power plant in Zaporizhzhia ahead of a counteroffensive that could see\u00a0Kyiv\u2019s forces drive directly through the potentially hazardous facility.\nhttps://t.co/hcErCVkWZ8\u201d— Nukes of Hazard (@Nukes of Hazard) 1684872110
On Monday, for the seventh time since the Russians took control of ZNPP last year, Europe's largest nuclear facility was fully disconnected from Ukraine's electricity grid and had to rely on backup diesel generators. The outage lasted over five hours.
Reutersreported that a "Russia-installed local official said Ukraine had disconnected a power line and Ukrainian state nuclear energy company Energoatom said the problem was caused by Russian shelling."
Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Monday's incident "demonstrates the highly vulnerable nuclear safety and security situation" at the facility and reiterated that "this simply can't go on."
"We're playing with fire. We must act now to avoid the very real danger of a nuclear accident in Europe, with its associated consequences for the public and the environment," he added. "I'm continuing to engage in intense negotiations with all the involved parties to secure the protection of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. I will not stop until this has been achieved."