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Jerusalem: Melanie Brooks, CARE, email@example.com, +41.795.903.047
New York: Rick Perera, CARE, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1.212.803.2905
An aid worker in Gaza whose blogs have moved readers around the world has been forced from his home and into the street by bombing, along with hundreds of neighbors including children and elderly people.
"The leaflets came yesterday, telling us our neighborhood would be attacked," says CARE staffer Jawad Harb. "The whole population of the area is terrified. We have nowhere to go."
The crisis facing Harb, one of CARE's local staff struggling to provide food and medical relief to civilians, underscores the desperate situation in Gaza. Harb and his family, including his six children and paralyzed 86-year-old grandfather, have been unable to find space in overflowing UN shelters, which received some 7,000 new displaced people last night alone.
"The street was the safest place. If our house is bombed, we'll get trapped and die like the people we saw on television," says Harb, reached by mobile phone. "My children have seen the dead bodies of children on television. They cry, they are crying now, they are terrified. When will this end? There was screaming. It is dark and cold but most of us are still outside.
"My children are shivering. It is getting so cold. Some neighbors went back inside, but they are staying on the first floor, next to the door so they can run outside. We don't know what will come next. This is the closest it has come to our house. The neighborhood next to ours was bombed. What do we do? We don't know."
CARE has unique access to first-hand information from Gaza and the West Bank, where our work includes programs in health, economic development, water and sanitation. We began providing aid in Israel and the Palestinian territories in 1949, concluding our programming in Israel in 1984 as the Israeli government improved its own capacity to address poverty.
CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives.
"We don't need to give in to Republican extortion or default," the House progressives asserted. "The Constitution grants the president another option."
After GOP House negotiators bailed on U.S. debt ceiling talks on Friday, around two-thirds of the Congressional Progressive Caucus urged President Joe Biden to "invoke his constitutional authority granted in the 14th Amendment" in order "to end Republican hostage-taking of the economy that could trigger a financial catastrophe."
Led by Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Deputy Chair Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Whip Greg Casar (D-Texas), 66 CPC members sent Biden a letter noting the "unremitting efforts by congressional Republicans to hold the economic health of our nation hostage," and calling on him to "fulfill the executive's constitutional duty to faithfully and impartially administer the funds already enacted by law at the direction of Congress."
The letter—which follows a similar call from some Senate Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—cites Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which states that "the validity of the public debt of the United States... shall not be questioned."
Biden said earlier this month that he has been "considering" invoking the 14th Amendment, "but the problem is, it would have to be litigated," and "I don't think that solves our problem now."
\u201cNEW: 66 CPC members are calling on @POTUS to prepare all possible measures, including invoking the 14th Amendment, to protect our economy.\n\nWe don't need to give into Republican extortion or default. The Constitution grants the President another option.\nhttps://t.co/qriXLfepBi\u201d— Progressive Caucus (@Progressive Caucus) 1684528145
"Congressional Republicans who now refuse to pass a clean debt ceiling increase voted on three separate occasions under President [Donald] Trump to raise the debt ceiling without any preconditions or extraneous, harmful policies attached," the lawmakers noted. "They now threaten the full faith and credit of the United States, which Treasury Secretary [Janet] Yellen warned would 'produce an economic and financial catastrophe' and could occur as soon as June 1."
The letter points out that although House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) "stated that 'the greatest threat to our future is our national debt,' he led House Republicans in passing the 'Limit, Save, Grow Act,' which rescinds funding for [Internal Revenue Service] enforcement against tax evasion by wealthy individuals, which would increase the deficit by nearly $500 billion over the next 10 years."
"Republicans—who in 2017 voted unanimously to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that increased the federal deficit by $1.9 trillion over 10 years, with 83% of the law's benefits estimated to accrue to the richest 1% by 2027—also rejected commonsense proposals offered by your negotiators to close tax loopholes and raise revenue in the current budget discussions," the progressives added.
\u201cBREAKING: 60+ of us @USProgressives are calling on @POTUS to follow his constitutional responsibilities and end the Republican default crisis.\n\nWe should not let right-wing extremists risk the livelihoods of millions just to give further tax cuts to their corporate donors.\u201d— Congressman Greg Casar (@Congressman Greg Casar) 1684526306
The letter continues:
We believe that relenting to Congressional Republicans' economic ransom and negotiating on devastating budget cuts, additional work requirements for essential food and economic support, and fast-tracking fossil fuel projects that undermine our shared climate achievements is antithetical to our shared Democratic values. Surrendering to these extremist demands also sets a dangerous precedent that emboldens Republicans to pursue additional, anti-democratic hostage-taking, particularly after having been told previously that a clean debt ceiling increase was nonnegotiable.
GOP leaders insist that any debt ceiling deal would have to come with cuts to social safety net programs, and Biden has signaled his openness to considering some reductions. The CPC letter warns that the Republican framework could take jobs from 780,000 people; nutrition assistance from 1.2 million women, infants, and children; Medicaid coverage from up to 21 million Americans; rental assistance from 640,000 families; and more.
"If the options are either agreeing to major cuts to domestic priorities under the Republican threat of destroying the economy and moving forward to honor America's debts, we join prominent legal scholars, economists, former budget officials, and a former president in advocating for invoking the 14th Amendment of the Constitution," the progressives wrote.
"Not only does the debt ceiling run counter to the Constitution's mandate that the validity of America's public debt shall not be questioned," their letter adds, "it contradicts the appropriations law that requires the Treasury to issue debt for the funding you are obligated to administer at Congress' direction."
One lawmaker joined protesters in chanting, "We love trans people, we need trans people, trans people belong here!"
This is a developing story... Please check back for possible updates...
Transgender and nonbinary Nebraskans and their allies flooded the state Capitol on Friday as lawmakers began the final round of debate on Legislative Bill 754, the so-called "Let Them Grow Act," which would ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans minors.
The state is one of more than two dozen where Republicans have proposed bills prohibiting young people from getting healthcare that medical experts say reduces depression and suicidal ideation in teenagers struggling with gender dysphoria.
Lawmakers including state Sens. Machaela Cavanaugh (D-6) and Megan Hunt (I-8) have led a monthslong filibuster of L.B. 754, with Hunt telling her colleagues that blocking the bill's passage is a matter of protecting her own transgender son as well as young people across the state.
On Friday, Cavanaugh joined protesters gathered outside the Legislature floor in chanting, "We love trans people, we need trans people, trans people belong here!"
\u201cSenator Cavanaugh chanting in solidarity with the crowd.\n\nhttps://t.co/DtuvTPYMGi\u201d— Erin Reed (@Erin Reed) 1684518484
Earlier this week, the unicameral Legislature—which is officially nonpartisan but has twice as many Republicans holding seats as Democrats—voted to attach a 12-week abortion ban to L.B. 754.
Opponents of the bill presented during the debate a letter signed by more than 1,000 medical providers from across Nebraska, who called the 12-week ban "ill-informed" and said the bill, "in its monstrous, newly amended form, is a direct attack on the medical community of our state."
\u201cThis is the first page of the letter from more than 1k #Nebraska medical professionals @NebraskaMegan said is about to be read onto the floor by @senatormachaela.\u201d— Aaron Sanderford (@Aaron Sanderford) 1684513194
The progressive political commentary site Seeing Red Nebraskareported that as many as four protesters were arrested for demonstrating at the Capitol as the lawmakers debated.
\u201cThey appear to be arresting some protestors.\n\nhttps://t.co/aItWSGtQ43\u201d— Erin Reed (@Erin Reed) 1684527974
A vote on L.B. 754 was expected as early as Friday evening.
"It's already hard enough for parents to make ends meet and now they're being put at the center of these dangerous political games," said one advocate.
As Republican lawmakers on Friday walked away from negotiations over raising the United States' arbitrary debt limit, claiming the Biden administration has been "unreasonable" in its refusal to accept steep spending cuts, a new survey showed how a majority of U.S. families are already struggling to afford essentials that would become even less accessible if the GOP gets its way.
ParentsTogether Action on Friday released the results of a survey taken this week of nearly 500 low- and middle-income families, finding that 75% of parents who benefit from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) would be unable to provide their families with nutritious foods without the program, whose funding would be reduced by 12%—$800 million—under the debt ceiling plan put forward by the Republicans.
More than half of WIC recipients told ParentsTogether that they would not have been able to afford food for themselves and would have been forced to forgo eating meals to feed their children if it weren't for the program. Sixty-four percent of recipients said they would have been unable to afford formula for their infants and 35% said they would not have had the breastfeeding support they needed.
Currently 53% of all infants born in the U.S. benefit from financial and nutritional assistance through WIC, up from 43% in 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"Republicans are holding parents, children, and grandparents hostage by threatening to default on our debt if they don't get the budget cuts they're demanding."
The Biden administration has warned that the the cuts proposed by House Republicans would lead to a loss of crucial food, formula, and breastfeeding assistance for as many as 1.7 million women, children, and infants.
Ailen Arreaza, executive director of ParentsTogether, said in a statement that the GOP's strategy "will backfire."
"Republicans' proposed budget illustrates just how far they're willing to go to protect billionaires and corporations. Their cruel plan to take WIC away from 1.7 million pregnant or postpartum parents and their babies—leaving countless infants without the formula they need to survive and taking away nutritious food from breastfeeding mothers—is not going unnoticed," she said.
"Republicans are holding parents, children, and grandparents hostage by threatening to default on our debt if they don't get the budget cuts they're demanding," Arreaza added. "It's already hard enough for parents to make ends meet and now they're being put at the center of these dangerous political games."
As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) said Thursday, House Republicans released their fiscal year 2024 agriculture appropriations bill this week, including the "harmful policy changes and deep funding cuts" needed to "adhere to the austere funding caps" included in the party's debt ceiling proposal.
"To cut funding without putting eligible applicants on waiting lists, the bill guts the increase to benefits for fruit and vegetables that has been in place since 2021 and was implemented based on a recommendation by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine," wrote CBPP senior policy analysts Katie Bergh and Zoë Neuberger. "This would cut benefits for nearly 1.5 million pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding participants and roughly 3.5 million children aged 1 through 4."
One million adults aged 50 to 55 would also be excluded from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) if they can't meet work requirements proposed by the GOP.
\u201cThis doesn't just take food out of the mouths of kids and new moms, but it reverses incredible progress in building healthier diets for the next generation. #WIC fruit and veggie benefits led to increased and more varied consumption of produce.\u201d— Brian Dittmeier (@Brian Dittmeier) 1684417560
"Folks need to remember that these efforts to shrink the pie of federal spending are completely disassociated from the actual need of families in this country," said Dittmeier. "When there's growing need for WIC, slashing benefits is far from the right answer."
The survey by ParentsTogether also suggested that the GOP's cuts to food assistance would further reduce the ability of parents across the country to save money for emergencies.
Seventy percent of respondents told the group that rising costs of food, housing, and other essentials have left them unable to save for the future any longer, and 64% said they've already had to spend some of their savings or emergency funds.