Summer hurricanes, wildfires and storms loom as FEMA faces pressure to step up

WASHINGTON — Another grueling summer disaster season is arriving, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is under intense pressure even as its portfolio balloons, it pleads for more money from Congress and criticism comes on several fronts.
The agency manages more than 300 disaster declarations a year, a dramatic increase from the average of 108 disasters it responded to just a decade ago. For 2022, the disaster outlook is daunting.

Wisconsin Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Ruth Conniff for questions: info@wisconsinexaminer.com. Follow Wisconsin Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

Biden administration looks for ways to alleviate infant formula shortage

The Biden administration sought to assuage parents’ concerns over an ongoing infant formula shortage Thursday, though officials couldn’t offer a timeline for when store shelves would be fully stocked again.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration is working to “cut red tape,” increase imports of formula and broaden what types of formula are available to participants in the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.

Psaki couldn’t say how soon the Abbott infant formula facility, which halted production after four children contracted bacterial infections, would be able to restart manufacturing. But she noted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration won’t allow production lines to begin running until it’s safe.

“I think it’s also important to note that the reason we’re here is because the FDA took a step to ensure that babies were taking safe formula,” Psaki said. “There were babies who died from taking this formula, so they were doing their jobs.”

The federal government, Psaki said, is calling on retailers to impose purchase limits to prevent people from hoarding baby formula, an issue she said is being driven by scared parents as well as people buying up formula to sell it at a price markup.

The White House is also asking state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission to address price gouging or unfair market practices, according to a fact sheet released Thursday.

Psaki said efforts from manufacturers and the Biden administration have led to more infant formula being produced “in the last four weeks than the four weeks preceding the recall.”

However, there wasn’t much advice Psaki was able to offer parents who cannot find formula for their children and have no idea what to do or where to look.

Psaki said she would “certainly encourage any parent who has concerns” to call their doctor or pediatrician.

Abbott issued a voluntary recall in mid-February for Similac, Alimentum and EleCare infant formula produced in its facility in Sturgis, Michigan, after four children contracted bacterial infections.

The U.S. FDA has issued a warning to parents that they shouldn’t attempt to make their own baby formula, saying that could cause severe health issues in their children.

“The potential problems with homemade formulas include contamination and absence of or inadequate amounts of critical nutrients,” the FDA said in a statement. “These problems are very serious, and the consequences range from severe nutritional imbalances to foodborne illnesses, both of which can be life-threatening.”

FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf issued a statement earlier this week saying the agency was “doing everything in (its) power to ensure there is adequate product available where and when they need it.”

Califf will face questioning from U.S. lawmakers next week after being called to testify before the House Committee that oversees the FDA’s funding.

Georgia Democratic Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., chair of the subcommittee, said in an announcement for the hearing that he’s deeply concerned “that a lapse in infant formula safety has led to the death and hospitalization of at least two babies.”

“This problem is made worse because many families and state nutrition programs rely on the infant formula supplier in question, and the recall has resulted in a shortage,” Bishop said.

Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro, chair of the full committee, said the panel will lead “the way in examining the contaminated infant formula produced at an Abbott facility” as well as “the FDA’s delayed response to this horrific incident, and the subsequent nationwide infant formula shortage.”

“The whistleblower report I submitted for the record details a culture at Abbott of falsifying records, turning a blind eye to safety and product concerns, and retaliating against any employee who brought these issues to light,” DeLauro continued.

“It is not enough to simply focus on supply chain issues. We must examine many states’ reliance on infant formula produced by Abbott. We must ensure federal food safety agencies are doing their job.”


Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: info@michiganadvance.com. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

Biden tangles with Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott: ‘I think the man has a problem’

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden pledged Tuesday to make a fight against inflation his top domestic priority while rebuking Republican economic proposals he said miss the mark — zeroing in on Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott.

The president’s remarks at the White House came after Scott earlier in the day called on Biden to resign because, he said, the chief executive is “unwell, unfit for office, incoherent, incapacitated and confused.”

“I think the man has a problem,” Biden retorted after told by a reporter about Scott’s broadside.

In his speech, Biden directly called out Scott for releasing an 11-point plan that Biden said represents the “ultra MAGA agenda” by a Republican Party that he finds increasingly extreme in its views on everything from tax policy to entitlement programs.

“Their plan is to raise taxes on 75 million American families, over 95% of whom make less than $100,000 a year in total income,” said Biden, who at one point mistakenly referred to Scott as being from Wisconsin. “They’ve got it backwards in my view.”

Biden instead touted his proposal to institute a minimum tax on billionaires and corporations, noting that “55% of the largest corporations paid net-zero in federal taxes on $40 million in profits.”

“That just isn’t right,” he said.

Biden also rejected a plank in Scott’s plan that calls for all federal legislation to sunset within five years. Scott’s proposal says that “If a law is worth keeping, Congress can pass it again.”

Biden said that would put Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in peril and turn the safety net programs into bargaining chips that Republican lawmakers could hold “hostage” in exchange for other proposals.

“Now if I hadn’t seen it in writing, I’d think somebody is making this up,” Biden said.

Scott, who is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, on Tuesday also released another statement, inviting the president to debate inflation.

“I’m glad we’re having a discussion about Joe Biden’s inflation and the impact it’s having on hardworking Americans,” Scott said. “We know that Joe Biden can be rolled up to the podium and give a speech from a teleprompter — albeit with a notable amount of rambling incoherence. But I believe the American people deserve a real debate on this issue.”

Divide in GOP

Biden, however, is not the only high-ranking politician to rebuke Scott for releasing his plan.

Several members of Scott’s own party have become frustrated with questions about various elements of the proposal and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly rebuffed it shortly after Scott released it earlier this year.

“If we’re fortunate enough to have the majority next year, I’ll be the majority leader. I’ll decide, in consultation with my members, what to put on the floor,” McConnell said.

“Let me tell you what will not be a part of our agenda: We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years. That will not be part of the Republican Senate majority agenda,” McConnell continued.

Republicans, McConnell added, would instead use time in the majority to address “inflation, energy, defense, the border and crime.”

Biden sees two paths

The rest of Biden’s midday speech on inflation focused on issues he’s repeatedly asked Congress to approve, including lowering the cost of prescription drugs and advancing legislation to boost renewable energy production.

Biden said that Americans have a choice to make on two paths forward to address inflation.

“My plan is to lower everyday costs for hardworking Americans and lower the deficit by asking large corporations and the wealthiest Americans to not engage in price gouging and to pay their fair share in taxes,” Biden said.

“The Republican plan is to increase taxes on middle class families and let billionaires and large companies off the hook as they raise prices and reap profits in record amounts. And it’s really that simple.”

GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX

SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.

Ohio Capital Journal is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Ohio Capital Journal maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor David DeWitt for questions: info@ohiocapitaljournal.com. Follow Ohio Capital Journal on Facebook and Twitter.

McConnell doesn't rule out US Senate vote outlawing abortion if GOP takes control

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t ruling out bringing a nationwide abortion ban up for a vote, should the U.S. Supreme Court end the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy and his party regains the chamber in the November elections.

The Kentucky Republican was somewhat reserved last week when repeatedly asked by reporters at the Capitol about the impact the court overturning a 50-year-old precedent would have. McConnell argued the real news was about the leak of an initial draft opinion to Politico, not the Republican-nominated justices preparing to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

But when asked by USA Today in an interview published over the weekend if a nationwide ban is “worthy of debate,” McConnell said it would be a possibility in a Republican-controlled Senate.

”If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies — not only at the state level but at the federal level — certainly could legislate in that area,” McConnell told USA Today. “And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process.”

“So yeah, it’s possible. It would depend on where the votes were,” McConnell continued.

Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst is expected to introduce a nationwide abortion ban bill in the U.S. Senate, according to The Washington Post.

Ernst’s office did not return a request for comment Monday about what exactly the legislation would entail and whether it would include any exceptions, such as the life of the pregnant person, rape or incest.

Getting any abortion bill through the U.S. Senate is an especially challenging task for either political party due to the legislative filibuster.

McConnell has been an ardent supporter of the procedural hurdle that requires at least 60 senators to agree to cut off debate on a bill and move on to passage.

“We don’t want to break the Senate and that’s breaking the Senate,” McConnell said May 3. “As far as I’m concerned, if we’re in the majority it will remain the case in perpetuity.”

The legislative filibuster stymied Democrats’ efforts to advance legislation codifying the right to an abortion earlier this year and is expected to stop a similar bill on a procedural vote this week.

Neither political party is forecast to gain the 10 seats necessary to hold a supermajority of 60 senators following this year’s midterm elections, making it highly unlikely Congress passes legislation addressing abortion in the near future.

Several left-leaning Democrats have called for their party to tweak or do away with the legislative filibuster.

But other Democrats like Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III have both repeatedly rejected the idea, and several other Democrats have expressed concerns about what legislation Republicans would pass once they’re back in the majority.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a letter Monday rebuking Republicans in state legislatures for advancing bills to restrict when and how women can access abortion services.

“Republican state legislators across the country are already advancing extreme new laws, seeking to arrest doctors for offering reproductive care, ban abortion entirely with no exceptions, and even charge women with murder who exercise their right to choose,” Pelosi wrote.

“These draconian measures could even criminalize contraceptive care, in vitro fertilization and post-miscarriage care, dragging our nation back to a dark time decades into the past.”


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

WATCH: Senate chamber erupts after confirming Ketanji Brown Jackson

Ketanji Brown Jackson will make history by becoming the first Black woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, after Democratic and Republican senators voted Thursday to confirm her to the lifetime appointment.

The 53-47 vote comes just six weeks after President Joe Biden announced his nomination of Jackson from the White House, fulfilling a promise he first made on the campaign trail.

“For too long, our government, our courts haven’t looked like America,” Biden said at the time. “I believe it’s time that we have a Court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of qualifications, and that will inspire all young people to believe that they can one day serve their country at the highest level.”

According to the White House, Jackson joined Biden and other senior staff in the Roosevelt Room to watch the vote results.

The momentous nature of Jackson’s confirmation was visible throughout the Senate chamber. Senators stayed at their desks on the floor for much of the vote and dozens of U.S. House members, including the Congressional Black Caucus, gathered to watch.

Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the Senate vote even though she wasn’t needed to break a tie, since Jackson won over the support of three Republicans: Maine’s Susan Collins, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Utah’s Mitt Romney.

After Harris called the vote, the Senate chamber erupted into a standing ovation. While most of the Republican senators filed out of the Senate, Democratic lawmakers cheered as staff packing the benches around the Senate floor and most of the seats in the gallery clapped.

Watch below:

Democrats give standing ovation, while GOP members walk out as Ketanji Brown Jackson makes history www.youtube.com

Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock said before the vote that “Ketanji Brown Jackson’s improbable journey to the nation’s highest court is a reflection of our own journey through fits and starts toward the nation’s highest ideals.”

“She embodies the arc of our history,” Warnock continued. “She is America at its best. That I believe in my heart after meeting with her in my office, talking to folks who I trust who know her and hearing her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Iowa GOP Sen. Charles Grassley said he would vote against Jackson, in part, because of her “lenient approach to criminal law and sentencing” and “judicial activism.”

“Her record clearly shows she does not believe in or act within the limited and proper role of a judge, so I will vote against her confirmation,” said Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which split 11-11 on her nomination.

The three Republicans who backed Jackson on the floor said she was well qualified to become an associate justice, though Collins and Murkowski added their support for her was also meant to reject how partisan the Supreme Court confirmation process has become.

“In my view, the role the Constitution clearly assigns to the Senate is to examine the experience, qualifications, and integrity of the nominee,” Collins said in a statement. “It is not to assess whether a nominee reflects the ideology of an individual Senator or would rule exactly as an individual Senator would want.”

Jackson will be sworn in later this year to fill Associate Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat after he retires this summer. She will not change the 6-3 conservative tilt of the court.

Hawley and Blackburn questioning

The Thursday vote followed a particularly grueling confirmation process for Jackson in the Judiciary Committee.

Numerous Republican senators, including Missouri’s Josh Hawley and Tennessee’s Marsha Blackburn, grilled Jackson during her first and second days of questioning during the four-day confirmation hearing.

Republicans brought up numerous concerns with Jackson, including her time as a federal public defender and how she sentenced some of the cases that came before her when she was a U.S. district court judge.

Hawley spent nearly all of his time questioning Jackson on seven cases in which she sentenced people convicted of possession of child pornography, alleging that she should have required more prison time.

Blackburn also focused on those cases, but asked additional questions about how Jackson would define a woman and abortion.

Democrats rebuked some of the Republican questioning, saying data proved Jackson’s sentencing in child pornography cases was in line with the vast majority of other judges and that trying to imply she was “soft on crime” was political.

“The overwhelming majority of Senators on both sides I thought were asking appropriate questions and positive in their approach and respectful of the nominee before us,” Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said during the second day of questioning. “But for many senators, yesterday was an opportunity to showcase talking points for the November election.”

From Miami to the high court

Jackson’s path to the U.S. Supreme Court has been decades in the making.

Jackson, who was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Miami, testified at her confirmation hearing that one of her earliest memories was watching her father study law.

“My very earliest memories are of watching my father study. He had his stack of law books on the kitchen table while I sat across from him with my stack of coloring books,” Jackson said last month on the first day of her confirmation hearing.

Jackson went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1992 and Harvard Law School cum laude in 1996.

She later clerked for the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit and for Breyer.

Jackson worked in private practice before joining the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2003. She became a federal public defender in 2005 before being confirmed as a U.S. district court judge in 2007.

The U.S. Senate voted on Jackson just last year, confirming her 53-44 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham joined Collins and Murkowski in backing her for that role.

Jackson received dozens of endorsements for her nomination to the Supreme Court, including from the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the National Education Association.

The American Bar Association rated Jackson’s as “highly qualified.”

Wrapping up the Senate floor debate on Thursday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, said Jackson becoming an associate justice would take a “bold and important step on the well trodden path to fulfilling our country’s founding promise.”

“This is a great moment for Judge Jackson, but it is even a greater moment for America as we rise to a more perfect union,” Schumer said.


Arizona Mirror is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Arizona Mirror maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jim Small for questions: info@azmirror.com. Follow Arizona Mirror on Facebook and Twitter.

Second COVID booster authorized by FDA for those 50 and older

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized another round of COVID-19 booster shots for people 50 and older, as well as those who are immunocompromised.

The decision to amend an earlier emergency use authorization for a second booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is meant to increase protection against severe illness from COVID-19 as the BA.2 variant grows increasingly common in the United States.

“Current evidence suggests some waning of protection over time against serious outcomes from COVID-19 in older and immunocompromised individuals,” Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

“Based on an analysis of emerging data, a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could help increase protection levels for these higher-risk individuals.”

Individuals older than 50 would be eligible for the second COVID-19 booster shot once they are four months out from their original booster dose.

People 12 and older who are immunocompromised would be eligible for the Pfizer booster at least four months after their most recent booster dose.

Those 18 or older and immunocompromised would be eligible for a Moderna booster dose at least four months after their most recent booster dose, according to the FDA guidelines.

The FDA said in its announcement that “emerging evidence suggests that a second booster dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine improves protection against severe COVID-19 and is not associated with new safety concerns.”

Marks used the announcement for a second booster dose for some people to encourage those who have not yet received their first booster dose to do so, saying in his statement that “an initial booster dose is critical in helping to protect all adults from the potentially severe outcomes of COVID-19.”


Idaho Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Idaho Capital Sun maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Christina Lords for questions: info@idahocapitalsun.com. Follow Idaho Capital Sun on Facebook and Twitter.

Senate confirms Louisiana’s Shalanda Young to head up White House budget agency

The U.S. Senate made history Tuesday when it confirmed Louisiana’s Shalanda Young as White House budget director.

Young, former staff director for the House Appropriations Committee, will become the first Black woman to head up the Cabinet-level agency that releases the president’s budget request, oversees federal agencies’ performance and reviews significant federal regulations.

The 61-36 vote came with substantial Republican backing for Young, including from Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, Louisiana Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

The new title won’t change much of Young’s day-to-day responsibilities, however.

She’s been working as acting director of the Office of Management and Budget since the Senate confirmed her as deputy director last March.

“Shalanda Young is one of the most effective Cabinet leaders to have the label of acting in a very long time. But it’s long past time for that word to drop from her job title,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday.

Young, a Louisiana native who holds an undergraduate degree from Loyola University New Orleans and a master’s degree in health administration from Tulane University, began working her way up the ranks of the House Appropriations Committee in 2007.

Young became staff director in 2017 and continued working for Democrats on the spending panel until she became deputy budget director a year ago.

During her time as a senior Democratic staffer, Young was a central figure in negotiations on the dozen annual government funding bills as well as emergency spending measures meant to address natural disaster recovery and the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of her confirmation process for OMB director, Young testified before the Senate Budget and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees in February.

The Senate Budget Committee voted 15-6 and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted 8-6 in February to send Young’s nomination for director to the Senate floor.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, the top Republican on the Homeland panel, voted for Young in committee, but not on the Senate floor.

During the February markup, Portman said he was particularly frustrated with OMB for dragging its feet on a document request he and Chairman Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat, made more than a year ago regarding the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response.

The two also requested documents regarding a national security issue that Portman couldn’t talk about publicly.


Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jarvis DeBerry for questions: info@lailluminator.com. Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Twitter.

'Another crushing blow': US and other democracies end normal trade relations with Russia

President Joe Biden on Friday announced a new round of sanctions on Russia by the United States, as well as countries within the European Union and the Group of Seven nations.

The latest round of joint economic restrictions will revoke Russia’s status as a preferred trading partner and eliminate the country’s ability to borrow from multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The United States will also move to ban the export of luxury goods to Russia, worth roughly $550 million annually, and the import of $1 billion a year in signature Russian products, like seafood, vodka and diamonds.

“We’re showing our strength, and we will not falter,” Biden said from the Roosevelt Room in the White House.

The U.S. House will vote next week on a bipartisan bill to remove Russia’s designation as a preferred trading partner, according to a statement from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

That legislation has broad bipartisan support, but has been on ice for more than a week as Biden sought to get other major nations on board with the trade sanctions.

“Putin’s premeditated, unprovoked war is an attack on the Ukrainian people and an attack on democracy — and the House remains steadfast in our commitment to partnering with President Biden and our allies to level swift, severe punishment and stand with the Ukrainian people,” Pelosi, a California Democrat, said in a statement.

Biden said Friday that Russia holding most favored nation status, referred to as permanent normal trade relations with the U.S., “means that two countries have agreed to trade with each other under the best possible terms — low tariffs, few barriers to trade and the highest possible imports allowed.”

“Revoking PNTR for Russia is going to make it harder for Russia to do business with the United States,” Biden continued. “And doing it in unison with other nations that make up half of the global economy will be another crushing blow to the Russian economy.”

Countries within the G7 — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — will also step up “pressure on corrupt Russian billionaires” by adding new names to the list of people they are targeting with sanctions, Biden said.

And the allied nations will increase coordination of already sanctioned Russian oligarchs to “target and capture their ill-begotten gains.”

At the end of his remarks, Biden answered one press question about whether the U.S. would have a military response if Russian President Vladimir Putin were to launch a chemical weapons attack on Ukraine.

“I’m not going to speak about the intelligence, but Russia would pay a severe price if they used chemical weapons,” Biden said.

Biden’s announcement came just moments after he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy “to underscore his support for the Ukrainian people as they continue to defend their country against Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack,” according to a White House readout.

Biden also told Zelenskyy about the latest round of sanctions.


Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: info@iowacapitaldispatch.com. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s what you will hear Joe Biden talk about in his debut State of the Union

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address is set to focus significantly on the economy, with the former member of the U.S. Senate calling on Congress to pass much of the agenda stalled in the so-called Build Back Better bill.
During the Tuesday night speech, which begins at 9 p.m. ET, Biden will urge lawmakers to send him legislation that would lower prescription drug prices, reduce how much families pay for child care and create a national paid family and medical leave program, administration officials told reporters in a Monday briefing.

Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jarvis DeBerry for questions: info@lailluminator.com. Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Twitter.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas six people tied to pro-Trump fake electors plan

The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas Tuesday for six people — including prominent Republicans in Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania — involved in planning slates of fake electors for former President Donald Trump.

Chairman Bennie G. Thompson said in a statement the panel is “seeking records and testimony from former campaign officials and other individuals” who had relevant information about plans to select alternative electors. Those bogus electors claimed Trump won states he had, in fact, lost.

“The Select Committee has heard from more than 550 witnesses, and we expect these six individuals to cooperate as well as we work to tell the American people the full story about the violence of January 6th and its causes,” the Mississippi Democrat said.

Among those subpoenaed are Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward, Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, former Michigan Republican Chair Laura Cox and Pennsylvania GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano.

The panel also issued subpoenas for Michael Roman and Gary Michael Brown, who were director and deputy director of Trump’s election day operations team.

The subpoenas are part of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol’s efforts to gain a clearer understanding of why GOP officials and politicians in states Trump lost signed certificates for fake electors who attempted to declare Trump the victor.

The six subpoenas issued Tuesday come less than a month after the select committee issued subpoenas for 14 people from seven states who participated as fake electors following the 2020 presidential election.

In the letter to Ward, the select committee said she “apparently spoke with former President Trump and members of his staff about election certification issues in Arizona.”

She also allegedly sent text messages to an Arizona election official stating “we need you to stop the counting” and telling the person to contact a lawyer for the Trump campaign after The Associated Press and Fox News declared President Joe Biden the winner of its Electoral College votes.

The select committee has already issued a subpoena for Ward and her husband’s cell phone records from Nov. 1, 2020, through Jan. 31, 2021. Ward has sued in federal court in an attempt to block her cell phone company, T-Mobile, from turning over the records.

Finchem, who was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and attended a QAnon conspiracy theory convention in Las Vegas, was allegedly involved in an array of activities following the 2020 election.

The committee wrote that he claimed the election was “rigged;” helped arrange an event at a Phoenix hotel where he reportedly said “not only do we have ballots that are improper but we have an election system that’s been hacked;” and while in Washington, D.C. around the time of the Jan. 6 attack said he wanted “to deliver an evidence book and letter to Vice President Pence showing key evidence of fraud in the Arizona Presidential Election, and asking him to consider postponing the award of electors.”

The panel wrote to Cox that it would like information about how she reportedly witnessed Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani pressuring “state lawmakers to disregard election results in Michigan” and saying that “certifying the election results would be a ‘criminal act.’”

Mastriano, who is running in Pennsylvania’s Republican gubernatorial primary, reportedly spoke with Trump following the election while Mastriano was participating in plans to select alternate electors to falsely claim the state’s Electoral College votes belonged to Trump.

“We understand you participated in these activities based on assertions of voter fraud and other asserted irregularities and based on a stated belief that under the U.S. Constitution the ‘state legislature has the sole authority to direct the manner of selecting delegates to the Electoral College,’” the committee wrote. “We have an interest in understanding these activities and the theories that motivated them.”

The select committee wrote to Brown and Roman that it would like to discuss various false statements they made about Trump winning the 2020 election as well as their efforts to select fake electors.


Louisiana Illuminator is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Louisiana Illuminator maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jarvis DeBerry for questions: info@lailluminator.com. Follow Louisiana Illuminator on Facebook and Twitter.

Fauci declines to predict COVID vaccine timetable for kids under 5

Parents hoping to vaccinate their young children against COVID-19 will need to be patient, Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned Wednesday.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said while he expects the vaccine regimen for children under 5 will be three doses, he couldn’t provide a timeline on when the federal government would approve emergency use of those vaccines.

“I don’t think we can predict when we will see an [emergency use authorization] with that because the company is still putting the data before the FDA,” Fauci said, referring to the Food and Drug Administration.

Fauci said the pace is an indication that the system works, since the FDA is being “scrupulous” in making sure “that when these vaccines become available for children at those ages that we can be certain that they will be safe and they will be effective.”

Pfizer and BioNTech have been testing a vaccine for young children for months, but Fauci said Wednesday that the original data of trial participants between 2 and 4 didn’t reach the level of protection that experts were looking for, even though doses for children between six months old and 2 “worked well.”

The FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines for children 5 to 11 in October under an emergency use authorization, but parents of children younger than that have been stuck in limbo ever since.

Fauci said Wednesday that he wasn’t involved in the FDA’s approval process or privy to the data for the ongoing process.

“Bottom line – I can’t give you a timetable on that,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”


Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Robert Zullo for questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.