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Health secretary candidate Becerra vows to ‘find a common cause’ as Republicans seek to paint him as extreme.

President Biden’s candidate for health secretary Xavier Becerra pledged Tuesday morning to work to “restore confidence in public health institutions” and “seek to find a common cause” with his critics, as Republicans sought to portray him as an unqualified liberal extremist. For the job.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Work and Pensions, Mr. Becerra, the Attorney General of California, was toasted by Republicans who complained that they had no experience in the profession of health and targeted its support for the Affordable Care Act. and for abortion rights.

“Basically, you spoke out against pro-life,” Indiana Republican Senator Mike Braun told Becerra. He asked if Mr Becerra would pledge not to use taxpayer money for abortions, which is currently prohibited by federal law, except in cases where the mother’s life is at stake, or in the ‘incest or rape.

“I will commit to obeying the law,” replied Becerra, leaving himself some leeway should the law change.

Tuesday’s appearance was the first of two Senate confirmation hearings for Mr. Becerra; he is due to appear before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. Despite the tough questions, Mr Becerra appears to be heading for confirmation in a Senate equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, but with Vice President Kamala Harris on hand to break the tie.

If confirmed, Mr Becerra will immediately face the daunting task of leading the department at a critical time, during a pandemic that has claimed half a million lives and has taken particularly devastating havoc on people from color. He would be the first Latino to serve as secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Although Mr. Becerra, a former congressman, did not have direct experience as a medical professional, he took a keen interest in health policy in Washington and helped draft the Law on Health Care. affordable care. He has most recently been at the forefront of legal efforts to defend it, leading 20 states and the District of Columbia in a campaign to protect the law from dismantling Republicans.

Republicans and their allies in the conservative and anti-abortion movements have taken hold of the ACA’s defense of Becerra as well as his support for abortion rights.

The Conservative Action Project, an advocacy group, on Monday released a statement signed by dozens of Conservative leaders, including several former members of Congress, complaining that Mr Becerra had a “troubling record” on ” policies relating to the sanctity of life, human dignity and religious freedom. “

They specifically cited his vote against banning “late abortion” and accused him of using his role as attorney general “to tip the scales in favor of Planned Parenthood,” a group that advocates the law. to abortion. Asked by Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney about the late abortion vote, Becerra noted his wife is an obstetrician-gynecologist and said he would “work to find common ground ” On the question. Mr. Romney was not impressed. “It looks like we’re not going to find common ground there,” he replied.

Democrats point to Mr Becerra’s experience as the head of one of the country’s largest justice departments through a particularly trying time, and his up-from-the-bootstraps biography. The son of Mexican immigrants, he studied at Stanford University both undergraduate and in law. He served 12 terms in Congress, representing Los Angeles, before becoming attorney general of his home state in 2017.

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Video: Whitmer calls for ‘common ground’ in pandemic response

new video loaded: Whitmer calls for ‘middle ground’ in pandemic response

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Whitmer calls for ‘middle ground’ in pandemic response

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer called for a unified political approach to tackle the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic during her state-of-state address on Wednesday.

2020 has been a difficult year. Despite some incredibly difficult decisions and dangerous threats, I know my burden has been lighter than many. This year did not go as we wanted or imagined. It required compassion and strength, as well as a lot of Michigan courage. Now I know you’re used to my saying, “Fix those damn roads.” This year, let’s also fix the damn road ahead. Let’s find common ground to grow our economy, get families and businesses back on their feet. It starts with ending the pandemic. The health of our economy is inextricably linked to the health of our people. To effectively rebuild our economy this year, we need to protect public health, and this barrier is removed easier and faster if we work together.

Recent episodes of United States and politics

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Whitmer is advocating with Michigan lawmakers to find common ground amid the pandemic.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer opened her annual state-of-the-state address on Wednesday by pleading with lawmakers to find common ground in combating the staggering effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

“Based on the political environment over the past year, you might think Republicans and Democrats in Lansing can’t find common ground on a lot of things,” Democrat Ms. Whitmer said. She noted times when there had been bipartisan action on Capitol Hill. “Let’s harness that same energy and end the pandemic, revitalize our economy and get our kids back to school.”

But the Republicans had none.

Hours before Ms Whitmer’s speech, Republicans in the State Senate refused to approve 13 appointments she had offered for positions in state government, such as head of the children’s ombudsperson’s office , the Civil Rights Commission and members of agricultural councils.

Republicans said they rejected the nominations because they felt Ms Whitmer was not including them sufficiently in decision-making regarding restrictions on businesses to stop the spread of Covid-19.

“She continued to bypass the Legislature,” said Senator Aric Nesbitt, a Republican from Lawton. “I understand that it is not easy to compromise and try to work with 148 members of this Parliament. We have to use all the tools available to compromise, and one of those tools is not to support one’s dates. “

Republicans in the State House of Representatives followed suit, offering a Covid relief plan that would withhold $ 2.1 billion in federal funding for schools to deal with the pandemic until Ms Whitmer gives up to its power to stop learning in person and sport during a health. crisis. This power would be transferred to local health services as part of the Republican plan.

The sharp public rejection of the governor’s appointments and powers came as the 2022 election cycle began to escalate. Ms Whitmer is re-elected in 2022, and no prominent Republican has come forward to challenge her.

Forced to speak remotely instead of in front of both houses of the legislature due to pandemic protocols, Ms Whitmer proposed plans to fix roads, provide an additional risk premium for teachers, and allocate resources from the State to help residents who lost their jobs during the pandemic find employment.

But it was the coronavirus, which has infected more than 600,000 state residents and killed more than 15,000 since it was first reported in Michigan in March, that has dominated his speech.

She said she plans to begin a statewide tour to speak with Michiganders from all walks of life, Republicans and Democrats, to try and find common ground as the state emerges from the pandemic. The tour is designed “to focus on what unites us, to improve the way we talk to each other,” she said. “My mission is to find common ground so that we can emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.”

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Allegations of electoral fraud are common. It is fraud that is rare.

In Orson Welles’ 1941 epic ‘Citizen Kane’, reporters huddle near the printing press on election night as it becomes clear that the results will not be good news for their boss, the the Charles Foster Kane edition.

One of them has a front page with the title they were hoping for: “Kane Elected”. He then lowers his head and nods towards the version they need to go with instead. “Fraud at the polls!” he declares.

Election fraud is one of the oldest accusations a politician can make in U.S. elections – though no modern day president has done so with such frequency and with so little evidence as President Trump.

As a report, it is sensational and often irresistible. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law examined its enduring appeal in a 2007 report, observing that voter fraud has “the feel of a bank robbery: downright doomed but technically fascinating,” and dark enough to make the headlines. “

The predominance of the topic in the conservative news media, where it is treated as a more widespread problem than the facts show, may help explain how Mr. Trump, an avid consumer of cable news, came to be. so obsessed.

In fact, election officials across the country, representing both parties, said there was no evidence that fraud played a role in determining the election outcome this year. The most common allegations of electoral fraud – ballot reports issued by someone voting twice, or by a deceased or otherwise ineligible person – can almost always be traced to a misunderstanding such as a typo, error. writing or a false assumption that two people with a common name are in fact the same person, according to the Brennan Center.

Yet the subject has been a staple of Fox News coverage since the 2000s, when hosts like Bill O’Reilly broadcast exaggerated stories about immigrants who voted illegally, campaigns that paid people for their votes, and community groups like ACORN whose employees had submitted fraudulent voter registrations. (ACORN employees, who were also the subject of an attack announcement that John McCain’s campaign waged against Barack Obama in 2008, did not appear to be trying to influence the vote, but rather to be paid for voter registration work that they hadn’t actually done.)

Allegations of electoral fraud have often involved absurd and far-fetched scenarios – deaths, dogs, buses full of people of color – which is another way of life in the public imagination. In recent years, conservative activists have released unverified reports that buses full of illegal voters showed up at polling stations from California to Wisconsin.

Famous was the story that Republican Senator Christopher S. Bond from Missouri told in 2000 about a 13-year-old springer spaniel who was registered to vote in St. Louis. Mr Bond argued that more anti-fraud protections, such as the requirement for identification, were needed after his colleague, Senator John Ashcroft, lost his seat as more Missourians voted for a dead man: the governor Mel Carnahan, who had been killed a plane crashed several weeks before the election but remained on the ballot. Mr. Ashcroft did not dispute the results.

The fantasy of a stolen election has elements that Mr. Trump has long incorporated into his story about himself. There are clear perpetrators (undocumented immigrants, big-city Democratic political machines) and a victim (him) – and usually enough ambiguity that he can float extravagant but unfounded rumors.

He laid the groundwork for his refusal to concede for a while. Speaking to Mark Levin, the Talk Radio and Fox News host in September, Mr. Trump suggested that some voters were receiving multiple ballots in the mail. He said, “People say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? I just received a whole series of ballots. ”