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More than a dozen state attorneys general have asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to confirm that the coronavirus relief bill recently approved by the federal government does not attempt to infringe on states’ authority in the area of state taxes.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr led the group of 21 state attorneys general in the letter to Yellen — the other attorneys general involved were from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

“The import of the Act’s prohibition against ‘offsetting’ reductions in state tax revenue is unclear, but potentially breathtaking,” the letter states. “This provision might have been intended merely to prohibit States from expressly t aking COVID-19 relief funds and rolling them directly into a tax cut of a similar amount. But its prohibition on ‘indirectly’ offsetting reductions in tax revenue, combined with the list of prohibited kinds of tax reductions (rate cuts, rebates, deductions, credits, or “otherwise”), could also be read to prohibit tax cuts or relief of any stripe, even if wholly unrelated to and independent of the availability of relief funds. After all, money is fungible, and States must balance their budgets. So, in a sense, any tax relief enacted by a state legislature after the State has received relief funds could be viewed as ‘using’ those funds as an ‘offset’ that allows the State to provide that tax relief.”

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VIDEO: Can Congress come together to solve the crisis at the border?

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Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee discusses the problems at the southern border

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Democrats float rule change to stymie Marjorie Taylor Greene

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s procedural delay tactic, which has increasingly become a regular part of House of Representatives business, could be blocked if some Democrats get their way.

The firebrand Georgia freshman congresswoman on Wednesday made her fourth motion to adjourn in three weeks as a delay tactic before the House passed the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.” The unannounced roll call votes forced members of Congress to stop other business.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the motion does much more to delay floor business because each roll call vote is allotted an extended time of 45 minutes to encourage social distancing.

Though the motions have failed each time, the disruptive move so frustrates members that Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, chairman of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, said he plans to propose a House rule change that will allow only members who are on House committees to call a motion to adjourn.

Cicilline hasn’t proposed the rule change, and it is unclear whether Democratic leadership will support it. California Rep. Pete Aguilar, vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told the Washington Examiner on Thursday that he first heard about Cicilline’s proposal in the press and that the caucus hasn’t discussed it.

Other House Democrats who spoke to the Washington Examiner were open to the idea, though. Another solution might be to limit the number of times in a congressional session that a single member could make a motion to adjourn.

Catholic University professor and politics department Chairman Matthew Green — that’s Green without the silent “e” like the Georgia congresswoman, with whom he has no known relation — warned that a quick rule change might be bad for Democrats.

“It’s Pelosi and the Democrats’ interest, frankly, to let this play itself out,” Green said. “Being so quick to change the rules actually indicates that the leaders of both parties have less power than you think over their own members.”

On Greene’s first motion to adjourn, all Republicans voted with her. The second time, two voted against the move; the third time, 18 Republicans voted against

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 it.

The fourth time she tried the move, 40 House Republicans voted against Greene’s motion. She then sent out a press release with the names of all 40 Republicans, calling them members of the “Surrender Caucus.”

“It’s increasingly without strategy,” Republican Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer, who voted against the motion Wednesday, told the Washington Examiner.

While it is easier for Democrats to push back, the rule change proposal might not be as easy of a solution as it seems.

“If Republicans are defecting on these votes in greater numbers, it’s to everyone’s interest to let this process continue to the point that they lose by an embarrassing bipartisan margin,” Green, the professor, said.

In years past, Democrats were the ones who excessively used the motion to adjourn as a delay tactic, particularly when Newt Gingrich, a Georgia Republican, was speaker, Green noted.

“When they were in the minority, they got pretty upset and frustrated with Gingrich and Republicans, and they started using these motions. But sometimes they would lose so badly,” Green said, “they just sort of stopped.”

Usually, the number of motions to adjourn is fewer than 10 per Congress, but peaks during “periods when the minority party was especially unhappy with the majority, usually when the governing party wasn’t following ‘regular order’ or was using a particularly unfair floor rule or procedure,” according to Green’s research.

“Members of the minority would offer multiple motions in a day to really slow things down,” Green said.

The Georgia congresswoman, for her part, referred to Cicilline as “Mussolini” when asked about his proposal, adding that she plans to continue making motions to adjourn. That prompted outrage from Cicilline, who noted that he is Italian and Jewish.

Greene can “get lost,” he said.

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House passes the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Wednesday night

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The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act Wednesday night in a 220-212 vote, which included just one Republican vote. 

The far-reaching police reform bill was originally introduced in the House last summer, following the death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis last summer. Floyd was suspected of passing a $20 bill at a convenience store. A police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as a way to immobilize him. He was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly afterwards. 

The bill would affect national policing standards in significant ways if it becomes law.

According to The Hill, “Racial profiling at every level of law enforcement would be prohibited; chokeholds, carotid holds and no-knock warrants would be banned at the federal level; qualified immunity for officers would be overhauled and a national police misconduct registry would be created so officers who were fired for such discretions could not be hired by another police department.”

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Also, “Although the bill would not technically mandate the prohibition of certain reforms such as chokeholds at a state and local level, it would tie in the new federal standards as thresholds for police departments to meet if they wanted to continue receiving federal aid.”

The bill is expected to have a difficult time passing in the 50-50 Senate, where Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the only black Republican in the Senate, has introduced the JUSTICE Act, a different version of police reform.

“I hope my friends on the other side of the aisle will come to the table to find common ground where we can make meaningful changes that will bring us closer to the goal of a more just country,” Scott said.

Chauvin’s trial on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges is scheduled to begin next week.

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