OUR CRUCIAL SPRING CAMPAIGN IS NOW UNDERWAY
Please donate now to keep the mission and independent journalism of Common Dreams strong.
To donate by check, phone, or other method, see our More Ways to Give page.
Ladd Everitt, email@example.com, (202) 701-7171
The U.S. Senate voted today to defeat the Thune Amendment (No. 1618) to the FY 2010 defense authorization bill (S. 1390). The amendment, co-sponsored by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and David Vitter (R-LA), would have required states to accept concealed handgun permits that are issued by other states. The practical effect of this change would have been to reduce concealed carry permit regulations in the United States to the lowest common denominator. Many states have weak laws and issue individuals permits after only a simple computerized background check-through a federal database that is missing millions of disqualifying criminal and mental health records.
Several states screen concealed carry permit applicants more rigorously in the interest of public safety. For example, at least 35 states prevent people from carrying concealed weapons if they have certain misdemeanor convictions; 31 states prohibit alcohol abusers from obtaining a concealed carry permit; and 31 states require the completion of a gun safety program prior to the issuance of a permit. Under the Thune Amendment, individuals from states that do not have these safeguards would have been able to carry handguns into states that do.
On behalf of the 48 national organizations that comprise the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, we would like to express our gratitude to the Senators who voted against the Thune Amendment and stood up to the National Rifle Association. We also would like to thank the thousands of grassroots activists across the country who worked so hard to defeat this dangerous legislation.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) is a 501(c)(4) organization that was founded in 1974. We seek to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy. Our organizational structure is unique among national gun violence prevention organizations. CSGV is composed of 47 national organizations working to reduce gun violence.
President Joe Biden "should not give in to hostage-taking," said one economist.
After meeting with congressional leaders earlier this week as the U.S. barrels toward a catastrophic debt default, President Joe Biden said that "we should be cutting spending," a remark that fueled concerns among progressives that the White House is preparing to cede to at least some Republican demands in exchange for a deal to lift the debt ceiling.
President Joe Biden has said repeatedly that he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, and that the arguably unconstitutional limit must be raised without any preconditions.
But the president has also expressed openness to budget negotiations with House Republicans, who are using the threat of default as leverage to push for steep cuts to federal nutrition assistance, Medicaid, and other key government programs.
Biden insists the debt limit and budget talks are separate, but as Vox's Andrew Prokop noted Wednesday, the president is "negotiating before the GOP has released" the debt ceiling hostage.
Speaking to reporters at the White House on Tuesday after meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Biden said that "he made clear... that default is not an option."
But the president added that he also "made it clear that we can cut spending and cut the deficit."
Biden offered several examples of what he would prefer to cut, such as "tax subsidies for Big Oil companies" and prescription drug costs in Medicare—budget reforms that progressives support.
House Republicans, though, are pushing for far steeper and broader cuts to government spending, specifically demanding a cap on federal spending at fiscal year 2022 levels. Such a cap would entail steep cuts to critical government agencies and programs, particularly if the Pentagon budget is shielded.
While Biden has publicly rejected that GOP demand, Reutersreported Thursday that "White House officials acknowledge that they must accept some spending cuts or strict caps on future spending if they are to strike a deal."
Lindsay Owens, executive director of the Groundwork Collaborative, wrote Thursday that Biden's remarks this week and growing talk of a deal on spending caps are "pretty troubling."
Owens suggested the current negotiations are beginning to look like "2011-light," a reference to the last time the GOP used the debt ceiling as leverage to enact painful spending cuts. Biden, who was then serving as vice president, was the White House's chief negotiator during that standoff, which culminated in austerity legislation that badly hampered the U.S. recovery from the Great Recession.
In a statement to The Washington Post on Thursday, Owens said that Biden "should not give in to hostage-taking."
Instead, Owens added, he should "follow the lead of the majority of Americans who vastly prefer bringing in revenue through tax increases on the rich rather than making harmful spending cuts."
\u201cHere\u2019s the full quote\n\nPossible it\u2019s a purely rhetorical shift and signals no change in policy, but as the WH pushes for a spending deal with Republicans demanding budget cuts it\u2019s worth keeping a close eye on\u201d— Jeff Stein (@Jeff Stein) 1683834247
The president was previously scheduled to sit down with congressional leaders again on Friday, but the meeting was postponed until early next week as staffers for the White House and lawmakers continue to exchange proposals to avoid a default, which would wipe out millions of jobs and potentially spark a global economic crisis.
The Treasury Department recently warned that the debt ceiling could be breached as soon as June 1.
It's far from clear whether Biden's recent comments and signals emerging from the White House indicate a substantive concession to the House GOP's crusade for spending cuts.
But as talks continue with little public evidence of progress, observers are increasingly voicing alarm over the possibility of a deal that includes victories for House Republicans who are eager to boot millions of people off of safety net programs.
"It increasingly seems like the White House has decided to cave and is trying to slowly acclimate people to it, so there's no abrupt blink followed by shock and outrage," Brian Beutler, editor-in-chief of Crooked Media, warned Thursday, pointing to the Reuters reporting. "Just slowly increasing resignation. Pretty pathetic."
Slate's Alex Sammon similarly called the White House's seeming hints at spending concessions to Republicans "a horrific development," particularly "after Republicans routinely raised the debt ceiling under Trump" and "after Democrats had a trifecta for two years and could've raised it any time."
"It's time to finally hold Norfolk Southern and the big rail companies accountable for the harm they have caused in East Palestine and Darlington Township, and the harm they continue to cause with this dangerous, reckless, and selfish behavior."
U.S. Sen. John Fetterman on Thursday demanded accountability for Norfolk Southern and other railroad companies following Wednesday night's freight train derailment in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.
Local media report nine out of more than 200 cars on a Norfolk Southern train went off the track just before midnight in the town of New Castle, 50 miles north of Pittsburgh and about 10 miles east of the Ohio border.
"This has got to end."
Fire officials said that salt, soybeans, and paraffin wax—used to make candles—spilled from the derailed cars, none of which were carrying hazardous materials. A statement from Norfolk Southern said no one was injured in the accident.
New Castle is also located about 20 miles from East Palestine, Ohio, the site of the fiery Norfolk Southern derailment and chemical burn disaster that spilled cancer-causing dioxin and vinyl chloride into the air, soil, and waterways in the vicinity of the accident.
"It's the same shit, different day from Norfolk Southern," Fetterman (D-Pa.) said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
\u201chttps://t.co/lliFDm9xzI\nAnother Norfolk Southern train has derailed, this one in New Castle Pennsylvania. This derailment is 30 minutes away from East Palestine. When is Norfolk Southern going to be held accountable for endangering public safety? #publicownership #norfolksouthern\u201d— Northeast PA DSA (@Northeast PA DSA) 1683826695
"It's time to finally hold Norfolk Southern and the big rail companies accountable for the harm they have caused in East Palestine and Darlington Township, and the harm they continue to cause with this dangerous, reckless, and selfish behavior," the freshman senator continued. Darlington Township, Pennsylvania is located about nine miles east of East Palestine.
"I'm thankful that no one was hurt and no toxic material was spilled in New Castle, but this derailment looks way too similar to the ones we've said can't happen again," Fetterman said. "This has got to end."
"I'm proud that my bipartisan bill, the Railway Safety Act, advanced out of committee yesterday," added Fetterman, who has also introduced the Railroad Accountability Act.
"This bill will finally enact commonsense rail safety procedures that would have prevented last night's derailment," the lawmaker asserted of the measure advanced Wednesday. "It's time to pass this bill on the floor and finally hold Norfolk Southern accountable."
"It's 10 days too late," said one protester in New York City. "Yes it's some step towards progress, but we've been waiting too long."
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg confirmed Thursday that Daniel Penny, who last week fatally choked Jordan Neely on the subway in New York City, is set to be charged Friday and could face up to 15 years behind bars.
"Daniel Penny will be arrested on a charge of manslaughter in the second degree," Bragg's office said in a statement. "We cannot provide any additional information until he has been arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, which we expect to take place tomorrow."
While riding the F train on May 1, Neely—a 30-year-old Black subway performer known for impersonating Michael Jackson—was "acting erratically," but he did not attack anyone on the train, according to witness and freelance journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez.
Neely, who was unhoused, shouted about being "fed up and hungry" and "tired of having nothing," said Vazquez—who posted on Facebook footage of Penny putting Neely in a chokehold that the medical examiner concluded killed him.
Penny, a white 24-year-old Marine veteran, was initially questioned and then released by police; his attorneys claim he acted in self-defense.
Meanwhile, the video has spread online and sparked not only demands for justice but also national conversations about homelessness, mental illness, and racism in the United States.
According toNBC New York:
Multiple protests have taken place in Manhattan since Neely's death, with dozens arrested. Protesters again ratcheted up the volume Thursday, even after learning of the charges said to be coming.
"We need people to be held accountable for their actions, however, we don't want this just to be about the need to incarcerate this man," said Jawanza James Williams, the organizing director for Vocal NY.
Still, some said it has taken too long for the charges to come.
"It's 10 days too late," said protester Tanesha Grant. "Yes it's some step towards progress, but we've been waiting too long."
In a Wednesday speech, Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams used Neely's death to promote his unpopular policy of addressing NYC's intertwined mental health and homelessness crises with forced hospitalizations.
"There is no evidence supporting Adams' harmful and dangerous rhetoric," responded New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman. "This kind of stigmatization and fearmongering contributes to the victimization of people with perceived mental illness—the same that led to the killing of Jordan Neely."
"The mayor is right that there are more Jordan Neelys in our city," Lieberman added. "They deserve housing, healthcare, and supportive services to get back on their feet, not to be controlled, criminalized, or killed."