Salem Radio Network News Saturday, September 18, 2021


Bernie Bennett

Reporting from Capitol Hill, Bernie Bennett has updates on what’s going on in the House.


Mon, Jul 12, 2021 at 6:17 am

State legislators are advancing measures meant to bar public schools from using Native American mascots in the wake of a spotlight cast by the Washington Football Team’s decision to drop its derogatory former name. Bernie Bennett has this report.


Lawmakers in Colorado and Nevada last month passed bills to bar public schools from adopting Native American mascots. They followed Washington state, where lawmakers approved a similar ban earlier this year. Lawmakers in Connecticut and Massachusetts have measures pending later this year.

Before this year, Maine was the only state to have barred schools from using Native American mascots under a 2019 measure signed into law by Democrat Gov. Janet Mills. She signed the measure shortly after the Skowhegan school district, the last in the state to use a Native American name, voted to retire its mascot.

Bernie Bennett reporting.

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Fully vaccinated lawmakers no longer required to wear masks in House chamber

Sun, Jun 13, 2021 at 11:18 am

Lawmakers who are fully vaccinated againstCOVID-19 will no longer be required to wear masks in the House chamber


The new guidance means that mostHouse members will no longer need to wear masks while in the House chamber whenthey return to Washington on Monday, weeks after the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention (CDC) first announced that fully vaccinated people canforgo facial coverings in most settings.

Friday’s new guidance from the Capitol physicianis a shift from the stance adopted immediately after the CDC announcement lastmonth.

The Friday memo stated that the maskrequirement was being modified “in response to considerable rate ofvaccination participation and diminishing daily evidence of diseasetransmission in our community.”

Bernie Bennett in Washington.


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Former President Trump says idea of being House speaker is “interesting”

Sun, Jun 6, 2021 at 12:21 pm

Former President Trump on Friday called a proposal that he run for the House in 2022 to try to win the speaker’s gavel“interesting,” though the chances of him doing so remain low.


Mr. Trump was asked about theproposal by radio host Wayne Allyn Root on Friday after Steve Bannon, a formeradviser to the ex-president, floated the idea.
Mr. Trump said, “That’s so interesting.”

The former President has floated apotential comeback bid for the White House in 2024 since leaving office earlierthis year, though speculation over a congressional campaign and anopportunity to lead the House has not gained significant traction.

Still, the proposal underscores theeagerness many in the GOP have for Mr. Trump to make some kind of return topolitics.

Bernie Bennett reporting.

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Is a program created after 9/11 to protect the flying public being abused by Congress?

Sun, May 16, 2021 at 1:13 pm

Is a program created after 9/11 to protect the flying public is being abused by Congress.


Sonya Hightower LoBasco, executive director of the Air Marshal National Council, submitted a formal congressional ethics complaint about one such flight involving Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who flew from Washington, D.C., to Minneapolis on April 17 to attend the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. LoBasco says Waters was already accompanied by two armed Capitol Police and two U.S. Secret Service agents when she allegedly requested two air marshals and two more marshals on touchdown to escort her in the airport.




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Republicans Who Don’t Support President Trump Are Banding Together

Wed, May 12, 2021 at 9:49 pm

Republican critics of former President Trump are forging ahead with their effort to weaken his grip on the party even as it becomes increasingly clear doing so may be a herculean task.

A group of more than 100 Republicans, including former national and state officials, are expected to release a letter this week warning that they are prepared to launch a third party unless the GOP steps back from its increasingly Trump-centric approach to politics.

But their efforts are likely to face strong headwinds. Many Republican voters remain deeply loyal to President Trump, and party leaders are largely betting on that support to propel them in the 2022 midterms.

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Pipeline Restarts

Wed, May 12, 2021 at 9:45 pm

Colonial Pipeline has begun a restart of its operations following a cyber-attack, the company announced on Wednesday.

It began the restart at about 5 p.m. Eastern, but it will take “several days” for product delivery to return to normal, the company said in a statement.

“Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm also said in a tweet that the pipeline would restart its operations.


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House Hearing on the Capitol Breach

Wed, May 12, 2021 at 9:27 pm

A House hearing on the federal response to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack has concluded after more than five hours of testimony that exposed stark partisan divisions.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform heard testimony from former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee.

The hearing elicited little new information about the preparations and response to the Jan. 6 attack.

Republicans sought to shift the narrative on the violent attack, with some painting the rioters who stormed the building as patriots who have been unfairly harassed. Democrats clashed with the former Pentagon chief while drilling into the government’s unprepared response.

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Gas Shortage

Wed, May 12, 2021 at 9:24 pm

Drivers are waiting in long lines at gas stations in the Southeast after a hack of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline led to distribution problems and panic-buying, draining supplies at thousands of gas stations.

There is no gasoline shortage, according to government officials and energy analysts. But there is a problem getting the fuel from refineries on the Gulf Coast to the states that need it, and officials are scrambling to find alternate routes to deliver that fuel. If the pipeline shutdown extends past the weekend, it could create broader fuel disruptions heading into Memorial Day Weekend.

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Biden Administration to Reunite Families Separated a the Border

Mon, May 3, 2021 at 6:39 pm

The Biden administration said Monday that four families that were separated at the Mexico border during Donald Trump’s presidency will be reunited in the United States this week in what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas calls “just the beginning” of a broader effort.

Two of the four families include mothers who were separated from their children in late 2017, one Honduran and another Mexican, Mayorkas said, declining to detail their identities. He described them as children who were 3 years old at the time and “teenagers who have had to live without their parent during their most formative years.”

Parents will return to the United States on humanitarian parole while authorities consider other longer-term forms of legal status.

The average stay for an unaccompanied child in Border Patrol custody has plummeted to about 20 hours, below the legal limit of 72 hours and down from 133 hours in late March.

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Florida Governor Lifts COVID Restrictions

Mon, May 3, 2021 at 6:19 pm

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended all of the state’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions through an executive order Monday, calling it “the evidence-based thing to do” while citing the availability of vaccines.

The Florida governor declared the suspension of restrictions at a press conference in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he signed a bill passed by the legislature last week that allows the governor to overrule local emergency orders starting July 1.

DeSantis also signed a separate executive order removing all local orders July 1, but he said his executive order outlawing COVID-19 emergency orders immediately served to “bridge the gap” between now and July 1.

Florida has stayed under a state of emergency since March 2020, and last week, DeSantis extended the state of emergency for an additional 60 days.

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Vaccine Hesitancy in Congress

Mon, May 3, 2021 at 6:17 pm

Vaccine hesitancy among lawmakers slows a return to normalcy on Capitol Hill.


Several Republican members who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19 say they feel no need to be vaccinated now, since the antibodies are in their systems.

Lawmakers, like the rest of the country, are all eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. But President Biden’s speech to Congress last week looked like he was addressing a group that hadn’t gotten a single shot.

With a crowd a fraction of its usual size the speech underscored how life on Capitol Hill has been slow to return to normal and how difficult it is to persuade holdouts to get immunized.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi estimated a day after the address that about 75 percent of House members have been vaccinated, a figure unchanged since March.

Until more members get vaccinated, Pelosi said, the House won’t return to pre-pandemic operations.

Several Republican members who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19 say they feel no need to be vaccinated now, since the antibodies are in their systems.


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Caitlyn Jenner Says No Boys in Girls Competition

Mon, May 3, 2021 at 6:11 pm

California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner (R) said Saturday that she does not support trans girls competing on the sports team that corresponds with their gender identity, saying that it would not be “fair.”

During an interview with TMZ, the Olympian and reality television star said, “This is a question of fairness. That’s why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school.”

She added, “It just isn’t fair. And we have to protect girls’ sports in our schools.”

When asked a follow-up question about whether banning trans women and girls from their respective sports teams would de-legitimize their identity, Jenner avoided answering.

Her comments come as a slew of state legislatures debate the issue of trans youth in sports.

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Romney Booed in Utah

Mon, May 3, 2021 at 6:08 pm

Sen. Mitt Romney was booed on Saturday at the beginning of his speech at the Utah Republican Party’s organizing convention.

Video of the speech published by The Salt Lake Tribune captured the crowd cheering loudly just as he asks the crowd what they felt about President Biden’s first 100 days in office.

While some attendees are seen standing and applauding, loud boos can also be heard.

The boos became louder after Romney, a frequent critic of former President Trump suggested that he wasn’t a fan of Mr. Trump’s “character issues.”

During the convention, the Utah GOP narrowly voted against a resolution to censure Romney, according to a vote tally published by KUTV News reporter Michael Locklear.

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Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) Says “America is not Racist”

Thu, Apr 29, 2021 at 12:22 am

The only Black Republican in the Senate says race is too important an issue to be used as a political football.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott has used the Republican response to President Biden’s address to Congress to vow that “America is not a racist country.”

Sen. Scott seized on Mr. Biden’s calls that passage of major police reform could help stamp out institutional racism nationwide. He’s the lead GOP negotiator as the two parties seek an accord on legislation overhauling police procedures.

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Maryland Governor Lifts Mask Restrictions

Thu, Apr 29, 2021 at 12:20 am

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan today (Wednesday) announced that face masks will no longer be required outdoors and dining restrictions will be lifted.

Holding a press conference on the state’s response to COVID-19, Hogan shared the new updates of the mask mandate based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and advice of leading public health experts. Hogan said starting May 1 all restrictions for outdoor dining will be lifted, which includes standing services outdoors in bars and restaurants.

But seated service and physical distancing requirements will remain in place indoors at bars and restaurants.

This comes as Maryland is already ramping up its vaccination rate with more than 4.5 million vaccines having been administered and 60 percent of Marylanders over the age of 18 being vaccinated.

The state’s COVID-19 cases have dropped 33 percent in the last two weeks with the positivity rate dropping to 3.89 percent, as well.

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Sen. McConnell Previews President Biden’s Address

Thu, Apr 29, 2021 at 12:13 am

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pronounced President Biden’s first 100 days a massive disappointment and accused the president of breaking his campaign promise to bring the nation together in the wake of a tumultuous 2020.

Sen. McConnell ticked through what has become a familiar list of Republican grievances with Mr. Biden: his decision to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline; passage of the $1.9 trillion American Spending Plan without any Republican votes; introduction of H.R. 1, a Democratic proposal to overhaul the nation’s election laws; the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan; and his handling of the migrant surge at the southern border.

McConnell said Democrats seem to be racing to pass as many of their large and expensive policy priorities before losing control of the House or Senate in 2022.


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Some Mexican counties refused vaccination teams

Sun, Apr 18, 2021 at 9:27 am

Mexican health authorities say 14 of the country’s roughly 2,600 townships have refused to allow vaccination teams to administer anti-coronavirus vaccines there


Assistant Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell said Friday the townships were concentrated largely in the heavily indigenous states of Chiapas (CHEE-ah-pahs) and Oaxaca (OH-ah-ZAH-kah). He did not give specific reasons why those communities did not want to be vaccinated, citing only “cultural and perhaps religious beliefs.” He said the decisions had been made by town councils, and said authorities are trying to set up a scheme in which people who wanted vaccines could get them in a neighboring township.


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Ontario, Canada enacts new restrictions amid surge of COVID cases

Sun, Apr 18, 2021 at 9:26 am

The premier of Canada’s most populous province says he will be limiting outdoor gatherings to those in the same household and will close playgrounds and golf courses amid a record wave of coronavirus infections fueled by variants


Ontario Premier Doug Ford says those who live alone will be able to meet someone from another household outside. Police have been given the power to write tickets. Interprovincial travel will also be limited. Ford blamed a lack of vaccines but made no mention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement that Pfizer is doubling the amount of vaccines to Canada over the next month and getting millions more in May and June.


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Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy says COVID-19 vaccines would be made available at key airports in the state starting June 1st

Sun, Apr 18, 2021 at 9:24 am

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy says COVID-19 vaccines would be made available at key airports in the state starting June 1st


He made the announcement Friday, as he unveiled plans aimed at bolstering Alaska’s pandemic-battered tourist industry. Dunleavy, a Republican, outlined plans for a national marketing campaign aimed at luring tourists and said the vaccine offering is “probably another good reason to come to the state of Alaska in the summer.” Dunleavy and other state leaders have been pushing to allow large cruise ships to return to Alaska after COVID-19 restrictions kept them away last year.


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Mother of Boy Shot at Maryland Police Barracks Speaks Out

Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 2:34 pm

The mother of a 16-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a Maryland State Police trooper says her son was “an awesome young man.”

On Wednesday, Kristee Boyle provided a family statement that says her son, Peyton Ham, was an honor student who loved spirited political debates at the family dinner table. The State Police superintendent said a trooper responding to a pair of 911 calls fatally shot Ham outside a home in the Southern Maryland city of Leonardtown. Investigators determined that Ham had an airsoft gun and a knife in his possession and pointed the replica toy gun at the trooper before he was shot.

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No Charges for Officer Who Shot Woman During January 6th U.S. Capitol Attack

Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 2:31 pm

Federal prosecutors won’t charge a police officer who shot and killed a woman as she climbed through the broken part of a door during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Authorities had considered for months whether criminal charges were appropriate for the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran from San Diego.

The Justice Department’s decision officially closes out the investigation. Prosecutors said they had reviewed video of the incident, along with statements from the officer involved and other officers and witnesses, examined physical evidence from the scene and reviewed the autopsy results. The officer was not charged.

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House Committee Approves Floor Debate on Reparations

Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 2:25 pm

Legislation that would create a federal exploratory commission on reparations for Black Americans was approved Wednesday by a House committee for the first time.

It was a day of many firsts for the longstanding bill known as H.R. 40, as it had previously never received a markup or a committee vote. Democrats passed the bill without any GOP support after engaging in partisan bickering over who was responsible for slavery.

Democrats said the measure is needed to rectify modern-day disparities in pay, health care, education and housing that negatively impact the African American community. Republicans spoke in opposition to the legislation, including Burgess Owens, a Utah Republican and an African American, who says the bill would divide the nation. Rep. Tom McClintock, a California Republican, said, “You say this is healing. It is precisely the opposite.”

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GOP Rep. Kevin Brady Won’t Seek Reelection

Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 2:22 pm

Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, announced Wednesday that he will not seek reelection next year after serving since 1997.

Brady is term-limited in his role as the top Republican on the powerful panel with jurisdiction over the tax code, meaning he wouldn’t be able to keep the position in the next session of Congress. He previously served as the committee’s chairman from 2015 to 2019, including while Republicans enacted their 2017 tax overhaul under former President Trump. Brady said during remarks before the Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Conference, “This term, my 13th, will be the last.”

He acknowledged that the House GOP’s internal rule limiting members to six consecutive years of committee leadership at a time played a role in his decision to retire. Brady’s district outside Houston is a GOP stronghold and is not expected to become competitive for Democrats in next year’s midterm elections.

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Roberta Jacobson, the White House’s southern border czar, will step down from her post at the end of the month in a surprising move but one the administration said was pre-planned

Sun, Apr 11, 2021 at 11:13 am

Roberta Jacobson, the White House’s southern border czar, will step down from her post at the end of the month in a surprising move but one the administration said was pre-planned

Jacobson, who was U.S. ambassador to Mexico under former President Obama, agreed to join the administration as a border coordinator for President Biden’s first 100 days in office, a period ending later this month.

But her exit comes as the administration grapples with historic levels of attempted border crossings and as the White House names new personnel, like Vice President Harris, to respond to the border surge.”

Congressional Republicans have criticized the Administration for not recognizing the border crossings as a national crisis.

Bernie Bennett in Washington.


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Editorial Cartoons

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Gary Varvel
Sat, Sep 11, 2021