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Bipartisan group of US senators push for compromise on gun control legislation – as it happened

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Lawmakers chase compromise on gun safety packageDemocratic and Republican US Senators are holding talks this week, mostly virtually, as efforts continue to forge what Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy has called “a significant package” of gun safety measures that will actually pass.

Shea high school students in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, walk out on Wednesday to protest the nation’s lack of gun safety policies. Photograph: David Goldman/APThere’s no avoiding the fact that expectations are limited and Murphy demurred when asked at the weekend if Republicans in the talks are ready to raise the age when you can buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21.

Senators aren’t expected to even broach ideas for an assault weapon ban or other restrictions that could be popular with the public as ways to curb the most lethal mass shootings, the Associated Press noted, adding that the US has not passed a major federal gun control measure since soon after the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut that left 26 dead.

The sessions are being led by Murphy and John Cornyn of Texas, whom Joe Biden has called a rational Republican.

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Republican Thom Tillis are involved and talks so far a “very constructive conversation”.

House judiciary committee chairman and New York Democrat Jerry Nadler plans to hold a hearing tomorrow on the “Protecting our Kids Act”, the AP reports – a package of eight bills that has almost no hopes of passing the Senate but would serve as a marker in the debate.

It includes calls to raise the age limits on semi-automatic rifle purchases from 18 to 21; create a grant program to buy back large-capacity magazines; establish voluntary safe practices for firearms storage and build on executive measures to ban bump stock devices and so-called ghost guns made from 3-D printing.

Murphy has mentioned measures in Senate talks such as red flag laws and more widespread (though not universal) background checks before gun purchases.

Murphy just retweeted star of stage and screen Marg Helgenberger who quote tweeted him on gun control.

Evening summaryIt was a quieter day than we are used to in Washington, perhaps because much of the media’s gaze was directed beyond the capital to a celebrity trial in Fairfax, Virginia.

Here’s what happened today:

The president convened a roundtable with infant-formula manufactures to outline the steps the administration was taking to address what many participants described as a crisis – a shortage of baby formula on US shelves. Amid criticism that the administration was slow to respond, Biden asked several of the CEOs when they realized the closure of an Abbott plant would affect supply. Several said the knew immediately. Pressed by reporters after the roundtable, Biden said: “They knew. I didn’t.”
Ahead of the meeting, the White House announced airlifts of infant formula from the UK and Australia in an effort to relieve the shortages causing deep anxiety for parents in the US. The transports, part of the administration’s Operation Fly Formula initiative launched last month, will deliver millions of bottles-worth of baby formula to California and Pennsylvania stores across the country in the coming weeks, the White House said.
A bipartisan group of senators is continuing negotiations in an effort to find some compromise on gun control legislation in the wake of the Uvalde massacre.
In a glass ceiling-shattering moment, Admiral Linda Fagan takes the oath this afternoon as commandant of the US Coast Guard, becoming the first woman to lead one of the US military services.

Biden is now posing questions to some of the manufactures who are participating in the roundtable.

Of the Reckitt’s CEO, Biden asked a question that has been posed to the administration by its critics: when the Abbott recall happened, and its plant shut down, did his company anticipate immediately the impact this would have on the supply of infant formula?

“We knew from the very beginning this would be a very serious event,” said Robert Cleveland, the SVP North America and Europe Nutrition at Reckitt.

Several other CEOs echoed the response, saying it was immediately clear that the recall and closure of the Abbott plant would have huge consequences for the infant formula market.

In closing, Biden thanked the manufactures for stepping up: “I ask you to keep focused, stay focused. Stay in high-gear. We can’t let up on the infant-formula market until it’s all the way back to normal and that’s going to take a couple more months but we’re making significant progress.”

When the meeting concluded, Biden was pressed on why the administration didn’t act sooner. A CNN reporter notes that the manufacturers say they knew the Abbott plant closure would cause major disruptions to the supply of infant formula.

“They did, but I didn’t,” Biden replied.

President Biden tells us he didn’t realize the depth of the baby formula shortage until April. The Abbott facility — which caused most of the issues — was shuttered in April.

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 1, 2022
“As a father and a grandfather, I understand how frustrating this shortage has been,” Biden says at the start of the roundtable with infant-formula manufacturers.

He says the US has been ramping up production of “safe formula,” noting the closure of the Abbott Nutrition’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan due to contamination problems.

Biden said Abbott accounts for 40% of the overall infant-formula market in the United States, and the Sturgis factory was one of their largest plants. Abbott is not among the companies invited to participate in today’s roundtable.

“The last thing we should ever do is allow unsafe formula to be sold to parents,” Biden said.

The administration recently announced plans to re-start production at the factory, but it would still take several weeks or more before the product is available again on shelves.

Biden then outlined the major steps the US has taken to ramp up production of infant-formula, including invoking the Defense Production Act as well as Operation Fly Formula to transport bottles and powder from abroad to the US. The Food and Drug Administration is also taking a series of new steps to make it easier to increase supply of infant formula, he said.

“We have work to do though, but we’re making critical progress,” Biden said.

Biden has now convened the virtual infant formula roundtable, in the White House’s South Court auditorium.

The administration officials participating in person include Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Becerra and the surgeon general Vivek Murthy. Among the infant-formula manufactures participating virtually are CEOs and senior officials from ByHeart, Bubs Australia, Gerber, Reckitt and Perrigo Company.

White House announces more airlifts of baby formula from Australia, UKBiden will meet shortly with the manufacturers of infant formula, a meeting meant to highlight the efforts the administration is making to address the shortage that has left shelves empty and parents desperate.

Ahead of the meeting, the White House announced that 3.7m bottles-worth of Kendamil infant will be shipped to the US from the UK, to be made available at Target stores across the country and online in the coming weeks.

The White House also announced that the administration had sourced two flights to transport 4.6m bottles-worth of Bubs Australia infant formulas from Melbourne, Australia to Pennsylvania and California on 9 June and 11 June respectively. It said more shipments would be announced in the “coming days.”

This comes amid reporting that the shortage is getting worse, not better. The Wall Street Journal reported today that the crisis is deepening, hitting low-income families in the south and southwest the hardest.

It cites new data by the market-research firm IRI that found 23% of powdered baby formula was out of stock nationally in the week that ended on 22 May, compared with 21% during the previous week.

By comparison, in early January before Abbott Laboratories recalled the formula produced in its facilities, just 11% of powdered baby formula was out of stock because of pandemic-related supply-chain shortages and inflation. Read the full WSJ report here.

Republicans have seized on the issue as part of their midterm messaging hammering Biden over his handling of the economy. On Wednesday, the RNC released a statement accusing the administration of doing “nothing to prevent the empty shelves parents experience today.”

Then, broadening then attack to blame Biden for inflation, the statement concluded: “No excuses from Biden will relieve parents’ worries about feeding their children, affording groceries, and filling up their cars.”

In a surprising revelation General Paul Nakasone, the head of US cyber command, told Sky News’ Alexander Martin that American military hackers have “conducted a series of operations” in support of Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

It is the first time the US has acknowledged its participation.

“We’ve conducted a series of operations across the full spectrum; offensive, defensive, [and] information operations,” Nakasone said in the interview, conducted in Tallinn, adding that the operations were lawful and conducted under proper oversight.

“My job is to provide a series of options to the secretary of defense and the president, and so that’s what I do,” he said.

🚨

Scoop: In an exclusive interview with Sky News, General Paul Nakasone confirmed that Cyber Command has conducted offensive operations in support of Ukraine.https://t.co/HdLmwM17Uq

— Alexander Martin (@AlexMartin) June 1, 2022
Nakasone also told the news network that he is concerned “every single day” about the risk of a Russian cyber attack targeting the US.

Interim summaryIt’s been a talkative day on Capitol Hill and at the White House and there more to come, so please stay tuned.

Here’s where things stand:

Connecticut Democratic US Senator Chris Murphy continues to lead negotiations with a select group of fellow Democrats and what the president terms “rational Republicans” over moderate action on gun control.
The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack has reportedly told Republican congressman Jim Jordan it expects him to comply with its subpoena by 11 June.
In a glass ceiling-shattering moment, Admiral Linda Fagan takes the oath this afternoon as commandant of the US Coast Guard, becoming the first woman to lead one of the US military services.
Lawmakers chase compromise on gun safety packageDemocratic and Republican US Senators are holding talks this week, mostly virtually, as efforts continue to forge what Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy has called “a significant package” of gun safety measures that will actually pass.

Shea high school students in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, walk out on Wednesday to protest the nation’s lack of gun safety policies. Photograph: David Goldman/APThere’s no avoiding the fact that expectations are limited and Murphy demurred when asked at the weekend if Republicans in the talks are ready to raise the age when you can buy an assault rifle from 18 to 21.

Senators aren’t expected to even broach ideas for an assault weapon ban or other restrictions that could be popular with the public as ways to curb the most lethal mass shootings, the Associated Press noted, adding that the US has not passed a major federal gun control measure since soon after the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut that left 26 dead.

The sessions are being led by Murphy and John Cornyn of Texas, whom Joe Biden has called a rational Republican.

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Republican Thom Tillis are involved and talks so far a “very constructive conversation”.

House judiciary committee chairman and New York Democrat Jerry Nadler plans to hold a hearing tomorrow on the “Protecting our Kids Act”, the AP reports – a package of eight bills that has almost no hopes of passing the Senate but would serve as a marker in the debate.

It includes calls to raise the age limits on semi-automatic rifle purchases from 18 to 21; create a grant program to buy back large-capacity magazines; establish voluntary safe practices for firearms storage and build on executive measures to ban bump stock devices and so-called ghost guns made from 3-D printing.

Murphy has mentioned measures in Senate talks such as red flag laws and more widespread (though not universal) background checks before gun purchases.

Murphy just retweeted star of stage and screen Marg Helgenberger who quote tweeted him on gun control.

In more midterms news, independent Tiffany Bond of Maine has secured enough verified signatures to qualify for a spot on the ballot this November, according to the Press Herald.

This upends one of the most closely-watched races of the cycle: a rematch between Democratic congressman Jared Golden and former Republican congressman Bruce Poliquin for Maines second congressional district.

Maine uses a ranked-choice voting system, which was put to use in 2018 when Poliquin won a plurality but not a majority. That year Bond came in third and was eliminated. After the second-place votes were tabulated, Golden won. Roughly two-thirds of Bonds’ voters chose Golden as their second choice.

Republicans are favored to win the House this cycle, and Golden is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrats. But the entry of a third-party candidate changes the dynamics of the race making a competitive race even more uncertain.

Golden is a conservative Democrat who often breaks with his party. He was the only House member to split his vote during Trump’s first impeachment trial, voting for one article and not the other.

Capitol attack committee pressures Jim Jordan over subpoena – reportThe House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack has told Republican congressman Jim Jordan it expects him to comply with its subpoena by 11 June, according to a letter sent to Jordan from the panel’s chairman Bennie Thompson, per CNN.

The committee had initially asked for Jordan to comply by 27 May, but is giving him more time.

The Jan. 6 committee tells Rep. Jim Jordan it still expects him to comply with its subpoena but is giving him a little more time to do so, setting a new deadline for June 11, per new letter sent to the Ohio Republican.

Story w/ @ryanobles https://t.co/Dt5Z8uQ23H

— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) June 1, 2022
Last week, Jordan responded to the committee’s subpoena by asking House investigators to share with him all materials they intended to rely upon in questioning, materials in which he is referenced, and legal analyses about subpoenaing members of Congress. In his response, he also questioned the constitutionality of the committee, writing: “Your subpoena was unprompted and, in light of the unaddressed points from my January 9 letter, plainly unreasonable. I write to strongly contest the constitutionality and validity of the subpoena in several respects.”

Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, offered a similar response to the committee last week, telling investigators that he would not cooperate with a subpoena unless he could review deposition topics and the legal rationale justifying the request.

Elsewhere in the sprawling investigation into the January 6th attack, Hugo Lowell reports that Trump’s lawyer Kenneth Chesebro wrote in a memo dated 13 December 2020 to Giuliani that vice president Mike Pence should recuse himself from running the electoral count and hand the gavel to a senior Republican, such as South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally.

A day before the January 6 attack, senior Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, said he didn’t expect Pence to preside, Lowell notes.

NEW: Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro said in 13 Dec 2020 memo to Giuliani that VP Pence should recuse himself from running the electoral count and hand the gavel to a senior GOP senator like Graham — recall that Sen. Grassley said on Jan. 5 he didn’t expect Pence to preside pic.twitter.com/iqyqg9U1sr

— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) June 1, 2022
It’s official: admiral Linda Fagan is the 27th commandant of the United States Coast Guard, making her the first woman ever to lead any branch of the US armed services.

Joe Biden participates in a change of command ceremony for Admiral Linda Fagan in Washington Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/ReutersAfter the change of command, Fagan takes to the podium to outline her vision for the Coast Guard. Touching on the historic nature of her promotion, she expresses gratitude to one of her predecessors, the late Owen Siler, for his decision to integrate the service academies in 1975.

“If it was not for Owen Siler’s courage I do not believe I would be standing here today,” she said, adding that she was wearing the “shoulder boards that he wore as the 15th commandant just to acknowledge the long blue line.”

Biden is now at the US Coast Guard headquarters in southwest Washington, where he is speaking at the change of command ceremony.

“There’s no one more qualified to lead the proud women and men of the Coast Guard and she will also be the first woman to serve as Commandant of the Coast Guard, the first woman to lead any branch in the United States Armed Forces – and it’s about time,” Biden said to loud applause.

Biden thanked her daughter, Aileen, for following in her mother’s footsteps as a graduate of the US Coast Guard Academy graduate and her husband John for supporting her service to the nation.

“With her trailblazing career, Admiral Fagan shows young people entering the service that we mean what we say: there are no doors – no doors – closed to women,” Biden said. “Now we need to keep working to make sure Admiral Fagan may be the first but not the only.”

Turning to his Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden said when Mayorkas finally sent him Fagan’s name to nominate her the post he joked: “what in the hell took you so long?”

Speaking before Biden, Mayorkas said: “Today is an historic day for the Coast Guard and a historic day for the United States.”

Admiral Linda Fagan to become first woman leader of any US military serviceLinda Fagan at her nomination hearing to be Commandant of the Coast Guard Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/APBiden is making his way to the US Coast Guard headquarters for a change of command ceremony, where retiring Admiral Karl Schultz will be relieved by Admiral Linda Fagan as the commandant of the branch.

This is a glass ceiling-shattering moment: When Fagan takes the oath this afternoon, she will become the first woman to lead one of the US military services.

Fagan has been the Coast Guard’s second in command since last summer. She graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1985, only the sixth class that accepted women.

She steadily rose through the ranks, serving on all seven continents, where she worked as an icebreaker and earned the distinction as the longest-serving Marine Safety officer.

She is also the first woman to hold the rank of four-star admiral in the Coast Guard.

“We’re getting past the ‘firsts,’” Fagan said recently, according to the New York Times. “I hope sometime soon we’re talking about the second female commandant, and the third female commandant, and that we’ll have a Black male commandant.”

This just in: vice president Kamala Harris will travel to Reno Nevada to speak at the Conference of Mayors’ Annual Meeting.

She will then travel to Los Angeles, where she will attend the Ninth Summit of the Americas.

According to Politico, Harris’s western tour is part of the administration’s new push on the economy to better “communicate … our accomplishments” to voters who say their top concern is inflation. In Reno, she will outline the administration’s plan to tackle risings costs and detail actions the White House has already taken to boost the economy.

All this month the administration is dispatching senior officials and cabinet secretaries across the country to make the case that the president is acting to help the economy.

The aftershocks of New York’s new maps continues to reverberate through Empire State politics.

New York congressman Mondaire Jones told NY1’s Kevin Frey that congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, a fellow New York Democrat and the chair of the DCCC, called to apologize for failing to give Jones a ‘heads up’ that he was planning to run in Jones’ newly-drawn district.

“I don’t want to speak for my friend Mondaire Jones. But I think you will find that he is focused and excited about the opportunity before him, and so am I. And I think it’s all worked out,” @spmaloney also says. #NY10

— Kevin Frey (@KevinFreyTV) May 31, 2022
Maloney, already facing heat for his handling of the Democrats’ midterm strategy, announced he would run for re-election in New York’s 17th congressional district after his district was re-drawn to become more Republican. This sparked furious criticism among progressives that the chair of the DCCC would jump into the district currently held by a Black freshman lawmaker viewed as a rising star in the party.

Jones is now running for New York’s 10th congressional district.

“I could have handled things better. And I tried to take accountability for that,” Maloney told NY1, after Jones revealed that the DCCC called him to “apologize for not giving me a heads up.”

In that interview, Jones would not say whether he accepted Maloney’s apology or whether Maloney should continue as DCCC chair.

In a separate interview, Maloney attempted to spin the debacle as a win for everyone. “I don’t want to speak for my friend Mondaire Jones. But I think you will find that he is focused and excited about the opportunity before him, and so am I. And I think it’s all worked out,” he told NY1.

“I don’t want to speak for my friend Mondaire Jones. But I think you will find that he is focused and excited about the opportunity before him, and so am I. And I think it’s all worked out,” @spmaloney also says. #NY10

— Kevin Frey (@KevinFreyTV) May 31, 2022
But but but… it’s not necessarily alls well that ends well. Maloney faces a tough re-election battle in a year where Republicans are favored to take control of the House.

Meanwhile, the Democratic primary for New York’s 10th congressional district is hotly contested and rapidly expanding. Just today Axios reported that Dan Goldman, best known as the lead counsel for House Democrats during their first impeachment of former president Donald Trump, intends to run for Congress in New York’s 10th Congressional District.

Should Goldman jump into the race for the heavily Democratic district, he would face Jones, as well as former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and New York Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou.

A new story from Politico this morning provides an inside look at the concerted effort by Republicans to “target and potentially overturn” votes in heavily Democratic precincts.

The story, based on video recordings of GOP operatives meeting with conservative activists, offers new details about Republicans’ plans to engineer a partisan takeover of state and local election administration. The strategy is blessed by the Republican National Committee and includes installing party loyalists and election conspiracy theorists as poll workers and linking them with party attorneys.

Here is how reporter Heidi Przybyla describes it:

The plan, as outlined by a Republican National Committee staffer in Michigan, includes utilizing rules designed to provide political balance among poll workers to install party-trained volunteers prepared to challenge voters at Democratic-majority polling places, developing a website to connect those workers to local lawyers and establishing a network of party-friendly district attorneys who could intervene to block vote counts at certain precincts.

The results could spell chaos in 2022 and 2024.

“This is completely unprecedented in the history of American elections that a political party would be working at this granular level to put a network together,” Nick Penniman, founder and CEO of Issue One, an election watchdog group, tells Przybyla. “It looks like now the Trump forces are going directly after the legal system itself, and that should concern everyone.”

Read the full report here.

In a new op-ed published by the New York Times, Joe Biden lays out the US’ intentions in Ukraine.

In the piece, titled What America Will and Will Not Do in Ukraine, Biden also extrapolates on what he views as the US’ “aims” in Ukraine, after rushing billions of dollars in weapons and aid to help the nation beat back a Russian invasion, now in its fourth month.

America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression, Biden writes.

Biden says that the US will not pressure privately or publicly to “make any territorial concessions’’ as part of its negotiations to end the conflict. The US president again emphasized that the US would not engage in direct combat in Ukraine or Russia.

“We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,” he writes. “We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia.”

In the essay, Biden confirms that the US will provide Ukraine with advanced rocket systems and munitions, a development our sister blog on Ukraine has covered in depth.

Read the full essay here.

Good morning, and welcome to Wednesday’s US politics blog.

What we’re watching this morning:

Both the House and the Senate are on recess. But a bipartisan group of senators, led by Connecticut senator Chris Murphy, are continuing discussions as part of an effort to reach an ever-elusive compromise on gun control legislation in response to the Uvalde massacre that left 17 children and two teachers dead. The senators will hold another virtual meeting today. The talks are centered around background checks and so-called “red flag” laws, which allows law enforcement to remove firearms from individuals deemed by a court to be a threat to themselves or other people. These are not major steps. In fact, most gun reform advocates are frustrated at how little is on the table given the extraordinary toll of gun violence.

Joe Biden is will participate in the US Coast Guard change of command ceremony at 11am, where Linda Fagan will take over as the commandant to become the first female service chief in US history. Later on Wednesday he will meet virtually with administration officials and major infant formula manufacturers to discuss his administration’s efforts to address the shortage at 2:45pm.

The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, will brief reporters at 3:30pm.

Source : The Guardian

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news7.asia Bipartisan group of US senators push for compromise on gun control legislation – as it happened