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UPDATE: A vote for paid sick leave gets fast-tracked
The nation's 115,000 rail workers currently receive no paid sick leave. Major railroad companies could provide every worker with a week of paid sick leave for $321 million — less than 2% of their annual profits. Rail workers have been asking for just four days of paid sick leave. But railroad companies are offering none. So the workers are threatening to strike starting on December 9.
On Monday night, fearing economic disruption, Biden called on Congress to impose a contract that has been rejected by many of the workers. That contract includes wage increases but no paid sick leave.
Biden's plan, however, ran into resistance in Congress. Several House progressives tweeted their opposition to Biden's plan. Late Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives would hold two votes. The House will first vote to impose the contract without sick leave. Then, it will hold a separate vote to add seven days of paid sick leave to the agreement.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has also called for a vote in the Senate to add paid sick leave. And he's picking up support from unexpected places. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) said he will "probably" vote to add paid sick leave to the agreement. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the rail workers' request for paid sick leave "reasonable." And Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) said he would not vote to impose a contract that is opposed by rail workers.
But despite some tentative Republican support, the paid sick leave amendment still faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where it will likely require 60 votes to pass. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: McCarthy lies
Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is close to becoming the next House Speaker and the most powerful Republican in the United States. But Republicans will have a very narrow majority in the next Congress, and several pro-Trump Republicans have already announced they will not support McCarthy for Speaker. McCarthy can't afford any more defections.
For a week, McCarthy remained silent about former President Donald Trump's dinner with Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist, anti-semite, and Holocaust denier. Trump dined with Fuentes and Kanye West (who formally changed his name to Ye) last Tuesday at Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.
But after meeting with Joe Biden at the White House yesterday, reporters confronted McCarthy and asked if he condemned Trump's dinner with an unrepentant bigot. In response, McCarthy claimed Trump "came out four times and condemned" Fuentes. That is a lie.
In a statement to Axios, Trump described Fuentes as "a guest whom I had never met and knew nothing about." In three other statements posted to Truth Social, Trump's social media platform, Trump defended the dinner and insisted he "didn't know" Fuentes. None of those statements condemned or criticized Fuentes.
According to the Guardian, Trump "repeatedly refused to disavow the outspoken antisemite and white supremacist Nick Fuentes after they spoke over dinner at his Mar-a-Lago resort, rejecting the advice from advisers over fears he might alienate a section of his base."
When reporters reminded McCarthy that Trump had not condemned Fuentes, McCarthy quickly switched gears. "Well, I condemn [Fuentes'] ideology," McCarthy said. "It has no place in society." McCarthy did not address whether Trump had an obligation to publicly reject Fuentes and his ideology.
McCarthy made the exact same "mistake" regarding Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Greene, who is supporting McCarthy's bid for speaker, appeared with Fuentes at his white nationalist convention in February. On Tuesday, McCarthy was asked by a reporter about members of Congress, like Greene, who had "ties" to Fuentes. "She denounced him," McCarthy quickly replied.
But Greene never denounced Fuentes. Like Trump, Greene simply claimed ignorance. "I do not know Nick Fuentes," Greene said. "I’ve never heard him speak. I’ve never seen a video. I don’t know what his views are, so I’m not aligned with anything that may be controversial." In a lengthy Twitter thread featuring a video of her speech at the Fuentes event, Greene complained that "Pharisees in the Republican Party" were attacking her. She described her appearance at the white nationalist gathering as an effort "to break barriers and speak to a lost generation of young people who are desperate for love and leadership." (After McCarthy's press conference on Tuesday, nine months after her speech, Greene tweeted: "I denounce Nick Fuentes.")
In February, notwithstanding Greene's excuse, McCarthy called her association with Fuentes "appalling and wrong." McCarthy added that Republicans "should not be associated any time, any place with somebody who is antisemitic."
If that is still McCarthy's position, it further complicates McCarthy's efforts to defend Trump's conduct. Trump is certainly familiar with Kanye West. And, in recent weeks, West has engaged in virulently anti-semitic rhetoric, including a pledge to go "death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE." Yet after making those and many other bigoted comments, Trump invited West to dinner.
But on Tuesday, McCarthy appeared to defend Trump's decision to associate with West:
REPORTER: Just clarify your position on the meeting between Trump and Kanye West. Was that appropriate?
MCCARTHY: Look, the president could have meetings with who he wants. I don't think anyone should have a meeting with Nick Fuentes.
McCarthy has also pledged to restore the committee membership of Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ), who addressed Fuentes' white nationalist convention as its keynote speaker. Gosar also "wrote to the FBI on his official letterhead claiming that… Fuentes had been placed on a no-fly list and protesting the alleged action."
The difference between now and February is that McCarthy needs the support of Greene and Trump to achieve his political ambitions. The Wall Street Journal notes that many Republican members of the House "still strongly support the former president and might push back if Mr. McCarthy is too critical." As a result, McCarthy is excusing conduct he condemned just months ago.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), who was defeated in the Republican primary, called McCarthy out for his ruthless pursuit of power. "I know you want to be Speaker, but are you willing to be completely amoral?" Cheney said.