The government is headed towards a shutdown this weekend that could disrupt many government services, squeeze federal employees and roil politics as Republicans in the House, fueled by hard-right demands to slash budgets, force a confrontation over federal spending. While some government entities will be exempt — Social Security checks, for example, will still go out — other functions will be severely curtailed. Federal agencies will stop all actions deemed non-essential, and many of the federal government’s roughly 2 million employees, as well as 2 million active-duty military troops and reservists, won’t receive paychecks. A look at what’s ahead if the government shuts down on Sunday. WHAT IS A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN? A shutdown happens when Congress fails to pass some type of funding legislation that is signed into law by the president. Lawmakers are supposed to pass 12 different spending bills to fund agencies across the government, but the process is time-consuming. They often resort to passing a temporary extension, called a continuing resolution or CR, to allow the government to keep operating. When no funding legislation is enacted, federal agencies must stop all nonessential work and will not send paychecks as long as the shutdown lasts. Mexico's president slams US aid for Ukraine and sanctions on Venezuela and Cuba Although employees deemed essential to public safety such as air traffic controllers and law enforcement officers still have to report to work, other federal employees are furloughed. Under a 2019 law, those workers are slated to receive backpay once the funding impasse is resolved. WHEN WOULD A SHUTDOWN BEGIN AND HOW LONG WILL IT LAST? Government funding expires Oct. 1, the start of the federal budget year. A shutdown will effectively begin at 12:01 a.m. Sunday if Congress is unable to pass a funding plan that the president signs into law. It is impossible to predict how long a shutdown would last. The Democratic-held Senate and Republican-controlled House are working on vastly different plans to avert a shutdown, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is struggling to win any support from hard-right conservatives to keep the government open. Many are bracing for a stoppage that could last weeks. WHO DOES A SHUTDOWN AFFECT? Millions of federal workers face delayed paychecks when the government shuts down, including many of the roughly 2 million military personnel and more than 2 million civilian workers across the nation. For many workers, the first payday they would miss is Oct. 13. Nearly 60% of federal workers are stationed in the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security. While the military’s active-duty troops and reservists would continue to work, more than half of the Department of Defense’s civilian workforce — roughly 440,000 people — would be furloughed. Across federal agencies, workers are stationed in all 50 states and have direct interaction with taxpayers — from Transportation Security Administration agents who operate security at airports to Postal Service workers who deliver mail. U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has said new training for air traffic controllers will be halted and another 1,000 controllers in the midst of training will be furloughed. Even a shutdown that lasts a few days will mean the department won’t hit its hiring and staffing targets for next year, he said. “Imagine the pressure that a controller is already under every time they take their position at work, and then imagine the added stress of coming to that job from a household with a family that can no longer count on that paycheck,” Buttigieg said. Beyond federal workers, a shutdown could have far-reaching effects on government services. People applying for government services like clinical medical trials, firearm permits and passports could see delays. Head Start programs serving more than 10,000 disadvantaged children would immediately lose federal funding. Biden warns US democracy in peril from 'extremist' Trump National parks will close on Monday, Oct. 2, if the government enters a shutdown, and the National Park Service said its services won’t be available. Some federal offices will also have to close or face shortened hours during a shutdown. Businesses closely connected to the federal government, such as federal contractors or tourist services around national parks, could see disruptions and downturns. The travel sector could lose $140 million daily in a shutdown, according to the U.S. Travel Industry Association. Lawmakers also warn that a shutdown could rattle financial markets. Goldman Sachs has estimated that a shutdown would reduce economic growth by 0.2% every week it lasted, but growth would then bounce back after the government reopens. Others say the disruption in government services has far-reaching impacts because it shakes confidence in the government to fulfill its basic duties. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned, “A well-functioning economy requires a functioning government.” WHAT ABOUT COURT CASES, THE WORK OF CONGRESS AND PRESIDENTIAL PAY? The president and members of Congress will continue to work and get paid. However, any members of their staff who are not deemed essential will be furloughed. The Supreme Court, which begins its new term Monday, would be unaffected by a short shutdown because it can draw on a pot of money provided by court fees, including charges for filing lawsuits and other documents, court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said. The rest of the federal judiciary also would operate normally for at least the first two weeks of October, said Peter Kaplan, a spokesman for the judiciary. Even in a longer shutdown, the entire judiciary would not shut down, and decisions about what activities would continue would be made by each court around the country. The justices and all federal judges would continue to be paid because of the constitutional prohibition on reducing judges’ pay during their tenure, according to the Congressional Research Service. Notably, funding for the three special counsels appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland would not be affected by a government shutdown because they are paid for through a permanent, indefinite appropriation, an area that’s been exempted from shutdowns in the past. That means the two federal cases against Donald Trump, the former president, as well as the case against Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, would not be interrupted. Trump has demanded that Republicans defund the prosecutions against him as a condition of funding the government, declaring it their “last chance” to act. HAS THIS HAPPENED BEFORE? Prior to the 1980s, lapses in government funding did not result in government operations significantly shuttering. But then-U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, in a series of legal opinions in 1980 and 1981, argued that government agencies cannot legally operate during a funding gap. Federal officials have since operated under an understanding they can make exemptions for functions that are “essential” for public safety and constitutional duties. Since 1976, there have been 22 funding gaps, with 10 of them leading to workers being furloughed. But most of the significant shutdowns have taken place since Bill Clinton’s presidency, when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich and his conservative House majority demanded budget cuts. The longest government shutdown happened between 2018 and 2019 when then-President Trump and congressional Democrats entered a standoff over his demand for funding for a border wall. The disruption lasted 35 days, through the holiday season, but was also only a partial government shutdown because Congress had passed some appropriations bills to fund parts of the government. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO END A SHUTDOWN? It’s the responsibility of Congress to fund the government. The House and Senate have to agree to fund the government in some way, and the president has to sign the legislation into law. The two sides are deeply entrenched and nowhere near a deal to avert a shutdown. But if the shutdown lasts for weeks, pressure will build to end the impasse, particularly if active-duty military members miss pay dates on Oct. 13 or Nov. 1. If the wider public starts seeing disruptions in air travel or border security as workers go unpaid, it will further goad Congress to act. Bangladesh-US ties 'outstandingly cordial' but some trying to inject bitterness: Momen Congress often relies on a so-called continuing resolution, or CR, to provide stopgap money to open government offices at current levels as budget talks are underway. Money for pressing national priorities, such as emergency assistance for victims of natural disasters, is often attached to a short-term bill. But hardline Republicans say any temporary bill is a non-starter for them. They are pushing to keep the government shut down until Congress negotiates all 12 bills that fund the government, which is historically a laborious undertaking that isn’t resolved until December, at the earliest. Trump, who is Biden’s top rival heading into the 2024 election, is urging on the Republican hardliners. If they are successful, the shutdown could last weeks, perhaps even longer.
A potent rush-hour rainstorm swamped the New York metropolitan area on Friday, shutting down parts of the city's subway system, flooding streets and highways, and delaying flights into LaGuardia Airport. Up to 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain fell in some areas overnight, and as much as 7 inches (18 centimeters) more was expected throughout the day, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “This is a dangerous, life-threatening storm," Hochul said in an interview with TV station NY1. "Count on this for the next 20 hours.” Traffic was at a standstill, with water above cars' tires, on a stretch of the FDR Drive — a major artery along the east side of Manhattan. Some drivers abandoned their vehicles. Priscilla Fontallio said she had been stranded in her car, which was on a piece of the highway that wasn't flooded but wasn't moving, for three hours. Read: Despite dispute, Canada remains committed to its relationship with India: Trudeau “Never seen anything like this in my life,” she said. Photos and video posted on social media showed water pouring into subway stations and basements. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs subway and commuter rail lines, urged residents of the nation's most populous city to stay home if they could. Virtually every subway line was at least partly suspended, rerouted or running with delays, and two of the Metro-North Railroad's three lines were suspended. Flights into LaGuardia were briefly halted, and then delayed, Friday morning because of water in the airport’s refueling area. Flooding also forced the closure of one of the airport’s three terminals. Towns and cities around New York City also experienced flooding, including Hoboken, New Jersey. The deluge came less than three months after a storm caused deadly floods in New York's Hudson Valley and left Vermont's capital, Montpelier, submerged. A little over two years ago, the remnants of Hurricane Ida dropped record-breaking rain on the Northeast and killed at least 13 people in New York City, most of whom were in flooded basement apartments. Overall, 50 people died from Virginia to Connecticut. Read: Explosion at rally celebrating Eid-e-Miladunnabi kills 52 people in Pakistan Hochul warned New Yorkers on Thursday night of a forecast that called for 2-3 inches (5-7.5 centimeters) of rain, with 5 inches (13 centimeters) or more possible in some places. “We anticipate, we warn, we prepare. But then when it hits and you have 5 inches in the last 12 hours — 3 in the last hour this morning — that’s a scale that we’re not accustomed to dealing with,” the Democrat told NY1 on Friday. But she added that New Yorkers “have to get used to this” because of climate change. As the planet warms, storms are forming in a hotter atmosphere, making extreme rainfall more frequent, according to atmospheric scientists.
President Joe Biden issued one of his most dire warnings yet that Donald Trump and his allies are a menace to American democracy, declaring Thursday that the former president is more interested in personal power than upholding the nation's core values and suggesting even mainstream Republicans are complicit. "The silence is deafening," he said. During a speech in Arizona celebrating a library to be built honoring his friend and fierce Trump critic, the late Republican Sen. John McCain, Biden repeated one of his key campaign themes, branding the "Make America Great Again" movement as an existential threat to the U.S. political system. He's reviving that idea ahead of next year's presidential race after it buoyed Democrats during last fall's midterm election, laying out the threat in especially stark terms: "There's something dangerous happening in America right now." "We should all remember, democracies don't have to die at the end of a rifle," Biden said. "They can die when people are silent, when they fail to stand up or condemn threats to democracy, when people are willing to give away that which is most precious to them because they feel frustrated, disillusioned, tired, alienated." The 2024 election is still more than a year away, yet Biden's focus reflects Trump's status as the undisputed frontrunner for his party's nomination despite facing four indictments, two of them related to his attempts to overturn Biden's 2020 victory. Trump campaign reports raising more than $7 million after Georgia booking The president's speech was his fourth in a series of addresses on what he sees as challenges to democracy, a topic that is a touchstone for him as he tries to remain in office in the face of low approval ratings and widespread concern from voters about his age, 80. He used this line of political attack frequently ahead of last year's midterms, when Democrats gained a Senate seat and only narrowly lost the House to the GOP. But shifting the narrative in Washington could be especially tricky given that Biden is facing mounting pressure on Capitol Hill, where House Republicans held the first hearing in their impeachment inquiry and where the prospect of a government shutdown looms — a prospect Trump has actively egged on. On the first anniversary of Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters staged an insurrection, Biden visited the Capitol and accused Trump of continuing to hold a "dagger" at democracy's throat. He closed out the summer that year in the shadow of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, decrying Trumpism as a menace to democratic institutions. And in November, as voters were casting midterm ballots, Biden again sounded a clarion call to protect democratic institutions. Advisers see the president's continued focus on democracy as both good policy and good politics. Campaign officials have pored over the election results from last November, when candidates who denied the 2020 election results did not fare well in competitive races, and point to polling that showed democracy was a highly motivating issue for voters in 2022. "Our task, our sacred task of our time, is to make sure that they change not for the worst but for the better, that democracy survives and thrives, not be smashed by a movement more interested in power than a principle," Biden said Thursday. "It's up to us, the American people." Like previous speeches the latest location was chosen for effect. It was near Arizona State University, which houses the McCain Institute, named after the late senator, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee who spent his public life denouncing autocrats around the globe. Biden said that "there is no question that today's Republican Party is driven and intimidated by MAGA extremists." He pointed to Trump's recent suggestion that Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who is stepping down from his post on Friday, should be executed for allegedly treasonous betrayal of him. House Republicans make their case for Biden impeachment inquiry at first hearing "Although I don't believe even a majority of Republicans think that, the silence is deafening," Biden added. He also noted that Trump has previously questioned those who serve in the U.S. military calling "service members suckers and losers. Was John a sucker?" Biden asked, referring to McCain, who survived long imprisonment in Vietnam. Then he got even more personal adding, "Was my son, Beau — who lived next to a burn pit for a year and came home and died — was he a sucker for volunteering to serve his country?" The late senator's wife, Cindy McCain, said the library, which is still to be built, grew out of bipartisan support from Biden, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs and her predecessor, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. She called it "a fitting legacy for my husband" and recalled how the Bidens introduced her to her future husband decades ago. "I am so grateful for that," Cindy McCain said, her voice cracking. Later Thursday, the Treasury Department announced $83 million in federal funds to help construct the 83,000-square-foot library near Papago Park. Republicans competing with Trump for their party's 2024 presidential nomination have largely avoided challenging his election falsehoods, and Biden said Thursday that voters can't let them get away with it. "Democracy is not a partisan issue," he said. "It's An American issue." After the speech, Biden spoke at an Arizona fundraiser for his reelection campaign. The attendees included Brittney Griner, the basketball star who was arrested last year at the airport in Moscow on drug-related charges and detained for nearly 10 months. Biden tells Pacific islands leaders that he hears their warnings about climate change and will act A number of candidates who backed Trump's election lies and were running for statewide offices with some influence over elections — governor, secretary of state, attorney general — lost their midterm races in every presidential battleground state. Still, in few states does Biden's message of democracy resonate more than in Arizona, which became politically competitive during Trump's presidency after seven decades of Republican dominance. Biden's victory made the state a hotbed of efforts to overturn or cast doubt on the results, and some GOP candidates continue to deny basic facts on elections. That's help reinforce other claims from Democrats about GOP extremism on other, separate issues, said Republican officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to candidly describe the party's election shortcomings last year. Though Trump-animated forces in the party dominate public attention, many Republican voters were concerned about other issues such as the economy and the border and did not want to focus on an election result that was two years old. Republican state lawmakers used their subpoena power to obtain all the 2020 ballots and vote-counting machines from Maricopa County, then hired Trump supporters to conduct an unprecedented partisan review of the election. The widely mocked spectacleconfirmed Biden's victory but fueled unfounded conspiracy theories about the election and spurred an exodus of election workers. In the midterms, voters up and down the ballot rejected Republican candidates who repeatedly denied the results of the 2020 election. But Kari Lake, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, has never conceded her loss to Hobbs and plans to launch a bid for the U.S. Senate. Last year, Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters and Mark Finchem, who ran for secretary of state, also repeated fraudulent election claims in their campaigns. Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., who defeated Masters, said the importance of defending democracy resonates not only with members of his own party but independents and moderate GOP voters. "I met so many Republicans that were sick and tired of the lies about an election that was two years old," Kelly said. Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in next year's Senate race, said a democracy-focused message is particularly important to two critical blocs of voters in the state: Latinos and veterans, both of whom Gallego said are uniquely affected by election denialism and the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. "You know, we come from countries and experiences where democracy is very corrupt, and many of us are only one generation removed from that, but we're close enough to see how bad it can be," Gallego said. "And so Jan. 6 actually was particularly jarring, I think, to Latinos."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Thursday with India's foreign minister amid a simmering row between New Delhi and Ottawa over allegations of Indian government involvement in the killing of a Sikh activist in Canada. Blinken and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met Thursday at the State Department as the U.S. tries to navigate the dispute between its northern neighbor and the South Asian country critical to its Indo-Pacific strategy to counter China's rising influence in the region. Neither man spoke to the controversy that has disrupted Canada-India relations in very brief comments to reporters, but a U.S. official said the topic was raised. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private talks, said Blinken encouraged India to cooperate with the Canadian probe. Also read: India and Canada steer clear, in UN speeches, of their dispute over Sikh separatist leader’s killing "We have consistently engaged with the Indian government on this question and have urged them to cooperate," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters ahead of the meeting. After the meeting, Miller said in a statement that Blinken and Jaishankar had "discussed a full range of issues, including key outcomes of India's G20 presidency, and the creation of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor and its potential to generate transparent, sustainable, and high-standard infrastructure investments." They also covered "the continued importance of cooperation ahead of the upcoming 2+2 Dialogue, in particular in the areas of defense, space, and clean energy," Miller said. The G20 refers to the Group of 20 summit that was recently held in New Delhi and was attended by President Joe Biden. The "2+2" dialogue is a format for meetings between the U.S. and Indian foreign and defense ministers. Also read: Canada’s interests currently pale in comparison to India’s massive strategic importance: BBC cites experts Earlier Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had been told Blinken would address the matter and encourage the Indian government to cooperate with an investigation into the killing. "The Americans have been with us in speaking to the Indian government about how important it is that they be involved in following up on the credible allegations that agents of the Indian government killed a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil," Trudeau said. "This is something all democratic countries, all countries that respect the rule, need to take seriously and we are moving forward in a thoughtful, responsible way anchored in the rule of law with all partners, including in our approach with the government of India," he told reporters in Montreal. Also read: Intelligence from 'Five Eyes' nations helped Canada link India to Sikh’s killing, US diplomat says U.S. officials have acknowledged that the fallout from the allegations, which they take seriously, could have a profound impact on relations with India but have been careful not to cast blame in the June killing of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was slain in a Vancouver suburb. Killed by masked gunmen, Nijjar was a leader in what remains of a once-strong movement to create an independent Sikh homeland, known as Khalistan, and India had designated him a terrorist. India's foreign ministry has dismissed the allegation as "absurd" and accused Canada of harboring "terrorists and extremists." It also implied that Trudeau was trying to drum up domestic support among the Sikh diaspora. Also read: Surveillance of Indian diplomats in Canada led to allegations around Sikh killing, official says In his comments, Trudeau said Canada did not want to rupture ties with India but takes the matter seriously. "As we've presented with our Indo-Pacific strategy just last year, we're very serious with about building closer ties with India," he said. "At the same time ... we need emphasize that India needs to work with Canada to ensure that we get the full facts on this matter." Also read: How India’s relations with Canada hit rock bottom
House Republicans launched a formal impeachment hearing Thursday against President Joe Biden, promising to "provide accountability" as they probe the family finances and lucrative business dealings of his son Hunter and make their case to the public, colleagues and a skeptical Senate. The chairmen of the Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means committees used the opening hearing to review the constitutional and legal questions involved with impeachment. They are trying to show what they say are links to Biden's son Hunter's overseas businesses, though key witnesses said they do not yet see hard evidence of impeachable offenses. Rep. James Comer, R-Ky, the Oversight chairman, said the lawmakers have "a mountain of evidence" that will show that the elder Biden "abused his public office for his family's financial gain." Also read: US House of Representatives to open Biden impeachment inquiry Hours after the hearing wrapped, Comer issued subpoenas for additional banking records from the personal and business accounts of Hunter Biden and the president's brother, James Biden. He said the panel will continue to "follow the money and the evidence to provide accountability." It's a high-stakes opening act for Republicans, taking place just before a potential federal government shutdown, as they begin a process that can lead to the ultimate penalty for a president, dismissal from office for what the Constitution describes as "high crimes and misdemeanors." The White House pushed back with statements throughout the hearing saying nothing can distract from the Republicans' inability to govern as the shutdown loomed. Spokesperson Sharon Yang called the hearing a "baseless stunt" and said, "President Biden will always stay focused on the priorities of the American people — not these political games." The more than six-hour hearing came as House Republicans face scattered resistance to an impeachment inquiry from their own ranks and deep reluctance in the Senate from Republicans who worry about political ramifications and say Biden's conviction and removal from office are unlikely. Also read: With no end in sight for Ukraine war, Biden at UN says world must remain united against Russian aggression As the hearing began, Democrats displayed a screen showing the days, hours and minutes left until the government shuts down as Congress struggles to fund the government before Saturday's deadline. "We're 62 hours away from shutting down the government of the United States of America and Republicans are launching an impeachment drive, based on a long debunked and discredited lie," said Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight panel. Raskin questioned the legitimacy of the hearing since the House has not voted to formally launch the impeachment inquiry. He said Republicans are rehashing five-year-old allegations raised by Donald Trump, who is Biden's chief rival in 2024, during the former president's 2019 impeachment over Ukraine. "They don't have a shred of evidence against President Biden for an impeachable offense," he said. The hearing Thursday did not feature witnesses with information about the Bidens or Hunter Biden's business. Instead, the panel heard from outside experts in tax law, criminal investigations and constitutional legal theory. Also read: Trump targeting GOP impeachment voter at Ohio revenge rally A top Republican-called witness, Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who is an expert in impeachment issues, said he believed the House had passed the threshold for an inquiry but the current evidence was not enough for charges. "I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment," Turley said. Democrats, who decry the investigation as a political ploy aimed at hurting Biden and helping Trump as he runs again for president, brought in Michael Gerhardt, a law professor who has also appeared as an expert in previous impeachment proceedings. In detailing the reasons Republicans say they have to impeach Biden, Gerhardt concluded: "If that's what exists, as a basis for this inquiry, it is not sufficient. I say that with all respect." Still, questions remain as Republicans dig into the Biden family finances and the overseas business dealings of Hunter Biden, who has acknowledged being a drug user during much of the time under scrutiny. The president's brother, James, was also involved in some work with Hunter. Republicans have been investigating Hunter Biden for years, since his father was vice president. And while there have been questions raised about the ethics around the family's international business, none of the evidence so far has proven that the president, in his current or previous office, abused his role, accepted bribes or both. One former business partner of Hunter Biden has told House investigators the son was selling the "illusion of access" to his father. Turley told the lawmakers the question remains, "Was the president involved?" In the run-up to the hearing, Republicans unveiled a tranche of new documents and bank records that detail wire transfers from a Chinese businessman to Hunter Biden in 2019. Hunter Biden had listed his father's address on the wire transfer form, which Republicans say provided a clear link to the president. Abbe Lowell, an attorney for Hunter Biden, said the address on the wire transfer, which he says was a loan, was listed to the president's Delaware home because it was the address on Hunter Biden's driver's license and "his only permanent address at the time." "Once again Rep. Comer peddles lies to support a premise — some wrongdoing by Hunter Biden or his family — that evaporates in thin air the moment facts come out," Lowell said in a statement. House Republicans are also looking into the Justice Department investigation into Hunter Biden's taxes and gun use that began in 2018. Two IRS whistleblowers came forward to Congress in the spring with claims that department officials thwarted their efforts to fully investigate Hunter Biden and that they faced retaliation when they pushed back. The claims have since been disputed by the Department of Justice, the IRS and FBI agents who worked on the case. "The Biden Justice Department protected the Biden family brand." said Rep. Jason Smith, a Missouri Republican and Ways and Means chairman. What Smith did not mention was that the discussions occurred during the Trump Justice Department and were likely in keeping with the agency's practice of avoiding overt investigative steps concerning political candidates in the immediate run-up to an election. But Republicans have pointed to a failed plea deal over the summer as proof that Hunter Biden received preferential treatment because of who his father was. "They tried to put together this sweetheart deal," said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the Judiciary chairman. The impeachment inquiry hearing is taking place as the federal government is days away from what is likely to be a damaging government shutdown that would halt paychecks for millions of federal workers and the military and disrupt services for millions of Americans. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the impeachment inquiry this month, egged on by Trump and with mounting pressure from his right flank to take action against Biden or risk being ousted from his leadership job. Trump is the only president to be twice impeached, first over accusations he pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden and later over accusations that he incited the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol. He was acquitted in both cases by the Senate. The hearing Thursday is expected to be the first of many as House Republicans explore whether or not they will pursue articles of impeachment against the president. It's unclear if McCarthy has support from his slim Republican majority to impeach Biden. If Biden was impeached, the charges would then be sent to the Senate for a trial.
With a government shutdown five days away, Congress is moving into crisis mode as Speaker Kevin McCarthy faces an insurgency from hard-right Republicans eager to slash spending even if it means curtailing federal services for millions of Americans. There’s no clear path ahead as lawmakers return with tensions high and options limited. The House is expected to vote Tuesday evening on a package of bills to fund parts of the government, but it’s not at all clear that McCarthy has the support needed to move ahead. US visa restrictions: State Dept spokesperson refrains from mentioning media Meanwhile, the Senate, trying to stave off a federal closure, is preparing its own bipartisan plan for a stopgap measure to buy some time and keep offices funded past Saturday’s deadline as work in Congress continues. But plans to tack on additional Ukraine aid have run into trouble as a number of Republicans in both the House and Senate oppose spending more money on the war effort. Against the mounting chaos, President Joe Biden warned the Republican conservatives off their hardline tactics, saying funding the federal government is “one of the most basic fundamental responsibilities of Congress.” Biden implored the House Republicans not to renege on the debt deal he struck earlier this year with McCarthy, which set the federal government funding levels and was signed into law after approval by both the House and Senate. US offers Poland rare loan of $2 billion to modernize its military “We made a deal, we shook hands, and said this is what we’re going to do. Now, they’re reneging on the deal,” Biden said late Monday. “If Republicans in the House don’t start doing their jobs, we should stop electing them.” A government shutdown would disrupt the U.S. economy and the lives of millions of Americans who work for the government or rely on federal services — from air traffic controllers who would be asked to work without pay to some 7 million people in the Women, Infants and Children program, including half the babies born in the U.S., who could lose access to nutritional benefits, according to the White House. It comes against the backdrop of the 2024 elections as Donald Trump, the leading Republican to challenge Biden, is egging on the Republicans in Congress to “shut it down” and undo the deal McCarthy made with Biden. US sanctions made govt lose its sanity: Fakhrul Republicans are also being encouraged by former Trump officials, including those who are preparing to slash government and the federal workforce if the former president retakes the White House in the 2024 election. With five days to go before Saturday’s deadline, the turmoil is unfolding as House Republicans hold their first Biden impeachment inquiry hearing this week probing the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden. “Unless you get everything, shut it down!” Trump wrote in all capital letters on social media. “It’s time Republicans learned how to fight!” McCarthy arrived at the Capitol early Monday after a tumultuous week in which a handful of hard-right Republicans torpedoed his latest plans to advance a usually popular defense funding bill. They brought the chamber to a standstill and leaders sent lawmakers home for the weekend with no endgame in sight. After the House Rules Committee met Saturday to prepare for this week’s voting, McCarthy was hopeful the latest plan on a package of four bills, to fund Defense, Homeland Security, Agriculture, and State and Foreign Operations, would kickstart the process. “Let’s get this going,” McCarthy said. “Let’s make sure the government stays open while we finish our job passing all the individual bills.” But at least one top Trump ally, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who is also close to McCarthy, said she would be a “hard no” on the vote to open debate, known as the Rule, because the package of bills continues to provide at least $300 million for the war in Ukraine. Other hard-right conservatives and allies of Trump may follow her lead. “Now you have a couple of new people thinking about voting against the Rule,” said Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., referring to the upcoming procedural vote. Once a holdout himself, Buck told reporters at the Capitol he would be voting for the package, but he’s not sure McCarthy will have enough for passage. “I don’t know if he gets them back on board or not,” Buck said. While their numbers are just a handful, the hard-right Republican faction holds oversized sway because the House majority is narrow and McCarthy needs almost every vote from his side for partisan bills without Democratic support. The speaker has given the holdouts many of their demands, but it still has not been enough as they press for more — including gutting funding for Ukraine, which President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Washington last week is vital to winning the war against Russia. The hardline Republicans want McCarthy to drop the deal he made with Biden and stick to earlier promises for spending cuts he made to them in January to win their votes for the speaker’s gavel, citing the nation’s rising debt load. Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a key Trump ally leading the right flank, said on Fox that a shutdown is not optimal but “it’s better than continuing on the current path that we are to America’s financial ruin.” Gatez, who has also threated to call a vote to oust McCarthy from his job, wants Congress to do what it rarely does anymore: debate and approve each of the 12 annual bills needed to fund the various departments of government — typically a process that takes weeks, if not months. “I’m not pro-shutdown,” he said. But he said he wants to hold McCarthy “to his word.” Even if the House is able to complete its work this week on some of those bills, which is highly uncertain, they would still need to be merged with similar legislation from the Senate, another lengthy process. Meantime, senators have been drafting a temporary measure, called a continuing resolution or CR, to keep government funded past Saturday, but have run into trouble trying to tack on Biden’s request for supplemental funding for Ukraine. They face resistance from a handful of Republicans to the war effort. A Senate aide said talks would continue through the night. And a spokesperson for the White House Office of Management and Budget said the administration would continue to work with members of both parties in Congress to secure supplemental funds and ensure efforts to support Ukraine continue alongside other key priorities like disaster relief. With just days remaining before a shutdown, several of the holdouts say they will never vote for any stopgap measure to fund the government as they push for Congress to engage in the full-scale debate.
The Biden administration announced Monday that it is offering a $2 billion loan to Poland, which has been a hub for weapons going into Ukraine, to support the ally’s defense modernization. The State Department said in a statement that Poland is a “stalwart” ally of the U.S. whose “security is vital to the collective defense” of NATO ’s eastern flank, and that such funding is reserved for Washington’s most important security partners. The U.S. government is also providing Warsaw up to $60 million for the cost of the loan in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) which would support “urgent procurements of defense articles and services from the United States,” the State Department said. The $60 million is a loan subsidy meant to ensure that Warsaw can secure favorable terms for the loan. Another US Assistant Secretary of State due this week Poland has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country, handing over large numbers of its own tanks, fighter jets and other equipment. It has also been a hub for most of the Western weapons going to Ukraine. It has been undergoing a process of modernization to replace what it gave away, much of which was based on old Soviet technology, putting in orders with U.S. and South Korean defense companies. Recently the Polish-Ukrainian relationship has seen strains due to a trade dispute centered on Ukrainian grain entering the Polish market and driving down the prices Polish farmers can get. Amid the spat Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his country was no longer sending any more weapons to Ukraine. US sanctions made govt lose its sanity: Fakhrul The comment created some confusion. Analysts noted that Poland has already in fact given Ukraine most of what it has to give, and the statement was made ahead of a Polish election and did not mean much. But it also raised concerns that Western support for Ukraine could be weakening. U.S. officials have sought to play down the spat, praising Poland’s role in helping Ukraine and noting that it is in Poland’s strategic interest for Ukraine to prevail against Russia. Bangladesh ranked 22nd among 50 most conflict-ridden countries by US-based researcher
President Joe Biden on Monday told leaders from the 18-member Pacific Islands Forum that he has heard their warnings about the impact of climate change on their region and that his administration is committed to helping them meet the challenge. Pacific islands leaders gathered Monday for the start of a two-day Washington summit. Many have been critical of rich countries for not doing enough to control climate change despite being responsible for much of the problem, and for profiting from loans provided to vulnerable nations to mitigate the effects. At the summit’s start, Biden said his administration is requesting Congress approve $200 million in new assistance for the region, including financing to help the islands prepare for climate and natural hazards and improve infrastructure. Biden has put a premium on improving ties in the Pacific at a time of rising U.S. concern about China’s growing military and economic influence. Build resilience against adverse impact of climate change: World leaders tell UN meet “I want you to know I hear you, the people in the United States and around the world hear you,” Biden told the leaders. “We hear your warnings of a rising sea and (that) they pose an existential threat to your nations. We hear your calls for reassurance that you never, never, never will lose your statehood, or membership of the U.N. as a result of a climate crisis. Today, the United States is making it clear that this is our position as well.” As part of the summit, the U.S. is formally establishing diplomatic relations with two South Pacific nations, the Cook Islands and Niue. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took part in separate signing ceremonies with Niue Premier Dalton Tagelagi and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown to mark the new elevated relations. “Today, we celebrate shared history, common values and people-to-people ties between our two nations, Tagelagi said at the Niue ceremony. ”We have been looking forward to this day.” Brown welcomed the elevation of U.S. relations with the Cook Islands and said the U.S.-Pacific islands partnership could be an important tool for helping the region achieve its aspirations. “These milestones celebrate areas of change and demonstrate that with unshakable resolve and leadership, remarkable achievements are possible,” Brown said. The forum includes Australia, the Cook Islands, Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. UN climate summit: Rich nations are failing to keep promises on climate crisis Kiribati signed onto a $29.1 million partnership with the U.S.-backed Millennium Corporation Challenge. The group will assist the island country with dozens of low-lying atolls and help boost its workforce. Some of the leaders attended an NFL game in Baltimore on Sunday and visited a U.S. Coast Guard cutter in the city’s harbor for a briefing on combating illegal fishing and other maritime issues. Biden announced Monday that later this year he would deploy a U.S. Coast Guard vessel to the region to collaborate and train with Pacific islands nations. At last year’s summit, the White House unveiled its Pacific strategy, an outline of its plan to assist the region’s leaders on pressing issues like climate change, maritime security and protecting the region from overfishing. The administration pledged the U.S. would add $810 million in new aid for Pacific islands nations over the next decade, including $130 million on efforts to stymie the impacts of climate change. The leaders also met Monday with Biden’s special envoy on climate, John Kerry, for closed-door talks focused on climate change. Blinken and U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield were hosting the leaders at the State Department for a dinner. COP28 president-designate calls on private sector to usher in a new era for sustainable climate finance Kerry and Samantha Power, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, will host the leaders on Tuesday for climate talks with members of the philanthropic community. The leaders also plan to meet with members of Congress. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will host a roundtable with the leaders and members of the business community. Power last month traveled to Fiji to open a new USAID mission that will manage agency programs in nine Pacific islands countries: Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau. The U.S. this year has opened embassies in Solomon Islands and Tonga, and is on track to open an embassy in Vanuatu early next year. Biden earlier this year had to cut short a planned visit to the Indo-Pacific, scrapping what was to be a historic stop in Papua New Guinea, as well as a visit to Australia for a gathering with fellow leaders of the so-called Quad partnership so he could focus on debt limit talks in Washington. He would have been the first sitting U.S. president to visit Papua New Guinea. Biden is set to honor Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese with a state visit next month.
The Afghan man speaks only Farsi, but he wasn’t worried about representing himself in U.S. immigration court. He believed the details of his asylum claim spoke for themselves. Mohammad was a university professor, teaching human rights courses in Afghanistan before he fled for the United States. Mohammad is also Hazara, an ethnic minority long persecuted in his country, and he said he was receiving death threats under the Taliban, who reimposed their harsh interpretation of Sunni Islam after taking power in 2021. He crossed the Texas border in April 2022, surrendered to Border Patrol agents and was detained. A year later, a hearing was held via video conference. His words were translated by a court interpreter in another location, and he said he struggled to express himself — including fear for his life since he was injured in a 2016 suicide bombing. US, Mexico agree on tighter immigration policies at border At the conclusion of the nearly three-hour hearing, the judge denied him asylum. Mohammad said he was later shocked to learn that he had waived his right to appeal the decision. “I feel alone and that the law wasn’t applied,” said Mohammad, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition that only his first name be used, over fears for the safety of his wife and children, who are still in Afghanistan. Mohammad’s case offers a rare look inside an opaque and overwhelmed immigration court system where hearings are often closed, transcripts are not available to the public and judges are under pressure to move quickly with ample discretion. Amid a major influx of migrants at the border with Mexico, the courts — with a backlog of 2 million cases -– may be the most overwhelmed and least understood link in the system. Deadly fire highlights immigration pressures on Mexico AP reviewed a hearing transcript provided by Mona Iman, an attorney with Human Rights First now representing Mohammad. Iman also translated Mohammad’s comments to AP in a phone interview from Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, Texas. The case reflects an asylum seeker who was ill-equipped to represent himself and clearly didn’t understand what was happening, according to experts who reviewed the transcript. But at least one former judge disagreed and said the ruling was fair. Now Mohammad’s attorney has won him a new hearing, before a different judge — a rare second chance for asylum cases. Also giving Iman hope is a decision this week by the Biden administration to give temporary legal status to Afghan migrants living in the country for more than a year. Iman believes he qualifies and said he will apply. But Mohammed has been in detention for about 18 months, and he fears he could remain in custody and still be considered for deportation. 'India withdraws objections to construction of new Kasba railway station, immigration building' AP sought details and comment from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency didn’t address questions on Mohammad’s case but said noncitizens can pursue all due process and appeals and, once that’s exhausted, judges’ orders must be carried out. ____For his April 27 hearing, Mohammad submitted photos of his injuries from the 2016 suicide bombing that killed hundreds at a peaceful demonstration of mostly Hazaras. He also gave the court threatening letters from the Taliban and medical documents from treatment for head wounds in 2021. He said militants beat him with sticks as he left the university and shot at him but missed. In court, the government argued that Mohammad encouraged migration to the U.S. on social media, changed dates and details related to his history, and had relatives in Europe, South America and other places where he could have settled. In ruling, Judge Allan John-Baptiste said the threats didn’t indicate Mohammad would still be at risk, and that his wife and children hadn’t been harmed since he left. Mohammad tried to keep arguing his case, but the judge told him the evidentiary period was closed. He asked Mohammad whether he planned to appeal or would waive his right to do so. Mohammad kept describing his claim, but John-Baptiste reminded him he’d already ruled. Mohammad said if the judge was going to ignore the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, he wouldn’t ask for an appeal. John-Baptiste indicated he had considered it. “You were not hit by the gunshot or the suicide bomber,” John-Baptiste said. “The harm that you received does not rise to the level of persecution.” Mohammad continued, explaining how his family lives in hiding, his wife concealing her identity with a burqa. “OK, are you going to appeal my decision or not?” John-Baptiste ultimately asked. “No, I don’t,” Mohammad said. “And we don’t want you to make the decision now that you can’t come back later and say you want to appeal. This is final, OK, sir?” John-Baptiste said. “Yes. OK, I accept that,” Mohammad said. He later asked whether he could try to come back legally. The judge started to explain voluntary departure, which would allow him to return in less than a decade, but corrected himself and said Mohammad didn’t qualify. “I’m sorry about that, but, you know, I’m just going to have to order you removed,” John-Baptiste said. “I wish you the best of luck.” Mohammad later told AP he couldn’t comprehend what was happening in court. He’d heard from others in detention that he had a month to appeal. “I didn’t understand in that moment that the right would be taken from me if I said no,” he said. ___Former immigration judge Jeffrey Chase, who reviewed the transcript, said he was surprised John-Baptiste waived Mohammad’s right to appeal and that the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld that decision. Case law supports granting protection for people who belong to a group long persecuted in their homelands even if an individual cannot prove specific threats, said Chase, an adviser to the appeals board. But Andrew Arthur, another former immigration judge, said John-Baptiste ruled properly. “The respondent knew what he was filing, understood all of the questions that were asked of him at the hearing, understood the decision, and freely waived his right to appeal,” Arthur, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for immigration restrictions, said via email. Chase said the hearing appeared rushed, and he believes the case backlog played a role. “Immigration judges hear death-penalty cases in traffic-court conditions,” said Chase, quoting a colleague. “This is a perfect example.” Overall, the 600 immigration judges nationwide denied 63% of asylum cases last year, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. Individual rates vary wildly, from a Houston judge who denied all 105 asylum requests to a San Francisco one denying only 1% of 108 cases. John-Baptiste, a career prosecutor appointed during the Trump administration’s final months, denied 72% of his 114 cases. Before Mohammad decided to flee, his wife applied for a special immigrant visa, which grants permanent residency to Afghans who worked for the U.S. government or military, along with their families. But that and other legal pathways can take years. While they waited, Mohammad said, the Taliban came looking for him but instead detained and beat his nephew. Mohammad described making the devastating decision to leave his family, who had no passports. He opted for a treacherous route through multiple countries to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, which has seen the number of Afghans jump from 300 to 5,000 in a year. Mohammad said he crossed into Pakistan, flew to Brazil and headed north. He slept on buses and trekked through Panama’s notorious Darien Gap jungle, where he said he saw bodies of migrants who didn’t make it. Mohammad planned to live with a niece in North Carolina. Now he fears if he’s sent home and his wife gets her visa, they’ll be separated again. Deportations to Afghanistan are extremely rare, with a handful each year. Attorney Iman said they’re grateful Mohammad’s case has been reopened, with a hearing scheduled for Oct. 4. She is fighting for his immediate release. “I have no doubt that his case would have turned out differently had he been represented,” Iman said. “This is exactly the type of vulnerable individual that the U.S. government has promised, has committed to protect, since it withdrew from the country.”
Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey announced on Saturday that he will run against Sen. Robert Menendez in the state’s Democratic primary for Senate next year, saying he feels compelled to run against the three-term senator after he and his wife were indicted on sweeping corruption charges. Kim’s surprise announcement came as a growing number of Democrats are calling for Menendez to step down. Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman became the first Democratic senator to do so, and several members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation, along with the state's Democratic governor, have said he should resign. “This is not something I expected to do, but I believe New Jersey deserves better,” Kim said in a statement. “We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our country’s integrity. I believe it’s time we restore faith in our democracy, and that’s why I am stepping up and running for Senate.” The calls for Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, come after he and his wife Nadine were indicted on Friday for using his powerful position to aid the authoritarian government of Egypt and also to pressure federal prosecutors to drop a case against a friend. The three-count indictment lists a series of bribes they were paid by three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for the corrupt acts — gold bars, a luxury car and cash. Read: Train crash in Pakistan injures at least 30. Authorities suspend 4 for negligence It is the second indictment on bribery charges for Menendez — and the second time he has had to relinquish his post as the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations panel. He regained the leadership spot in 2018 after the case ended with a deadlocked jury. The immediate calls for his resignation are a contrast from when he was first charged eight years ago, signaling that he could be in deep trouble with his party, and with his voters, as his 2024 reelection approaches. Menendez was defiant after Friday’s indictment, saying in a statement Friday evening that “I am not going anywhere.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced that Menendez would have to step down as chairman per Senate Democratic caucus rules, since he has been charged with a felony. But he did not call for Menendez to step down. In a statement on Saturday, Fetterman became the first Senate Democrat to do so, saying that his Senate colleague is “entitled to the presumption of innocence under our system, but he is not entitled to continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations. I hope he chooses an honorable exit and focuses on his trial.” Several Democrats in New Jersey’s House delegation also called on Menendez to go, including Reps. Donald Norcross, Josh Gottheimer, Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell, Mikie Sherrill and Bonnie Watson Coleman. Read: India had been riding a geopolitical high. But it comes to the UN with a mess on its hands “This is a sad day for our great state,” said Pascrell, a senior member of the House who has served in the New Jersey delegation with Menendez for almost three decades. “The hallmark of our justice system is the presumption of innocence and the senator deserves his day in court. But given the gravity of these charges, I do not believe that Senator Menendez can continue to carry out the important duties of his office for our state.” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also demanded Menendez’s immediate resignation, saying the allegations were “so serious" that they compromise the senator’s ability to serve. Two notable New Jersey Democrats who have not called on Menendez to step down: Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, his New Jersey colleague in the Senate, and his son, Rep. Rob Menendez, who said in a statement that he has “unwavering confidence” in his father. Authorities who searched Menendez’s home last year found more than $100,000 worth of gold bars, as well as over $480,000 in cash — much of it hidden in closets, clothing and a safe, prosecutors say. The indictment includes photos of cash stuffed in envelopes in jackets bearing Menendez’s name and of a luxury car that prosecutors say was given to the couple as a bribe from the businessmen. Prosecutors say Menendez directly interfered in criminal investigations, including by pushing to install a federal prosecutor in New Jersey he believed could be influenced in a criminal case against a businessman and associate of the senator. He also tried to use his position of power to try to meddle in a separate criminal investigation by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, the indictment says. Other accusations include repeated actions by Menendez to benefit Egypt despite U.S. government misgivings over the country’s human rights record that in recent years have prompted Congress to attach restrictions on aid. His efforts include ghostwriting a letter to fellow senators encouraging them to lift a hold on $300 million in aid to Egypt, one of the top recipients of U.S. government support, as well as transmitting nonpublic information to Egyptian officials through communications with the businessmen. Menendez responded that there was an “active smear campaign” against him. “For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave,” he said in a statement. David Schertler, a lawyer for Menendez’s wife, Nadine, said she “denies any criminal conduct and will vigorously contest these charges in court.”