Dems float piecemeal approach to passing stalled Build Back Better plan – National & International News – FRI 21Jan2022

Last year, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) explained from the deck of his yacht why he wouldn't back Biden's sweeping social spending package.



Dems hope to revive ‘chunks’ of Build Back Better plan. GA prosecutor eyes probe of Trump’s election interference. Tonga eruption may match biggest nuclear tests.




Dems float piecemeal approach to passing stalled Build Back Better plan

Following President Biden’s long-awaited anniversary press conference, prominent Capitol Hill voices are addressing Biden’s comments hinting at reviving “chunks” of his stalled Build Back Better legislation.

The version of Build Back Better which passed the House last year contained a wide range of provisions. These included childcare and housing subsidies, expansions of Medicare coverage, extending the child tax credits, climate change spending, guaranteed paid family leave among a host of other things. But when the bill arrived in the Senate, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) reneged on his promise of support. This was despite months of negotiations in which Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) pushed for a much-narrower bill than had originally been proposed. Frustratingly for many of their Democratic colleagues, neither Manchin nor Sinema would provide a comprehensive list of their specific objections to the House bill.

Now Manchin at least has said he might be open to reviving certain parts of the bill, but was characteristically vague about which parts. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded somewhat acerbically to both Biden and Manchin’s comments on the piecemeal approach. “When people say let’s divide it up – nah,” Pelosi said. “No, they don’t understand the process”.

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Georgia prosecutor eyes probe of Trump’s election interference

Fani Willis, District Attorney for Fulton County, GA, wants to convene a special grand jury to consider possible charges of election interference against former President Trump and his allies. For months, Willis’ office has been investigating whether Trump and his officials committed criminal offenses in their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The focal point of Willis’ investigation is an infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call in which Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes”, just enough to tip the state’s election to a Trump victory. Trump and others on the call also hinted at consequences for Raffensperger should he refuse.

By convening the special grand jury, Willis will obtain the subpoena power to compel key figures to testify. One such key figure would be Raffensperger himself. Although Raffensperger, a Republican, denied Trump’s request, he has also so far refused to cooperate with Willis’ investigation.

The special grand jury would not itself have the authority to bring criminal charges against Trump or his associates. But it’s fact-finding power would enable the special grand jury to recommend charges to be brought by a regular grand jury if warranted. 

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Tonga volcanic eruption may match biggest nuclear detonations

Scientists with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna, Austria, believe that the explosive power of the volcanic eruption near Tonga on Saturday may be on par with the biggest nuclear tests ever conducted. The researchers believe that the Tonga eruption may have generated an explosive yield of at least 50 megatons. By comparison, scientists estimate that the blast of Russia’s Tsar Bomba, the largest known nuclear test, at around 50-58 megatons.

However, physicist Margaret Campbell-Brown left open the possibility that the Tonga blast could be larger still. “A very rough back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the energy was around 50 megatons,” said Campbell-Brown. “We haven’t done the real analysis that it would need, but it doesn’t seem like it would be smaller”.

Previously, NASA estimated the Tonga eruption at around 10 megatons.

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