An effort by House Democrats to override U.S. President Donald Trump’s first veto has failed. That hands him a victory as his declaration of a national emergency at the Southwest border will remain in effect.
The Democratic-controlled chamber voted 248-181 in favour of overriding Trump’s veto. That fell 38 votes short of the 286 needed for Democrats and their handful of Republican allies to prevail, because a two-thirds majority was needed.
The emergency declaration lets Trump shift an additional $3.6 billion US from military construction projects to erecting barriers along the border with Mexico. Building the wall was one of Trump’s most repeated campaign pledges, though he said it would be paid for by Mexico, not taxpayers.
Congress voted to provide less than $1.4 billion US for barrier construction. Court challenges may eventually block the extra money Trump wants.
Earlier, the U.S. House of Representatives armed services committee denied the Pentagon’s plan to shift $1 billion US to build the wall.
Acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan announced on Monday that the Department of Defence had shifted $1 billion US from other military construction projects to build part of the barrier along the southern border.
Democratic Rep. Adam Smith, the committee’s chairman, said the panel did not approve the proposed use of Pentagon funds.
“The committee denies this request. The committee does not approve the proposed use of Department of Defence funds to construct additional physical barriers and roads or install lighting in the vicinity of the United States border,” Smith said in a letter to the Department of Defence.
The plan to pay for Trump’s border wall is facing pushback in Congress. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Smith announced the denial of the $1 billion transfer in a statement as his committee held a hearing on the Pentagon budget.
Smith told the hearing that Trump’s proposed $750 billion US defence budget would not pass as it was proposed. That budget included $100 billion US in a “slush fund” meant to fund ongoing wars but which the Pentagon intends to use to boost the amount of money it has available to avoid budget caps passed by Congress, worrying lawmakers.
Shanahan’s decision to shift military dollars in order to pay for the wall without consulting Congress could lead lawmakers to cut off the Pentagon’s authority to reprogram funds.
“[Department of Defence] is attempting to circumvent Congress and the American people’s opposition to using taxpayer money for the construction of an unnecessary wall, and the military is paying the cost,” Smith said in a statement accompanying the letter.
Pelosi, the first and only female House speaker, stands with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) during a donation ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on March 7, 2018. Pelosi donated items including her speaker’s gavel, a burgundy dress she wore to her swearing-in, and the original speech she gave from Jan. 4, 2007.
The seafood chowder prepared in a Vancouver restaurant kitchen was “unfit for human consumption,” according to an inspection report prepared after a rat was allegedly found in a customer’s bread bowl.
Cockroaches, mouse droppings and other rodent excrement were all visible when Vancouver Coastal Health inspectors visited the commercial commissary kitchen at Mamie Taylor’s restaurant on Dec. 28, 2018, according to a report obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
At the time, Crab Park Chowdery was renting the basement space to prepare its chowder, but the kitchen is no longer being used to prepare food.
“General sanitation was poor,” inspector Karen Rehbein writes of the kitchen.
“A cockroach was sighted running over [Crab Park Chowdery owner Ashton] Phillips’s head. Mouse droppings were noted inside the walk-in cooler, as well as in the food preparation and food storage areas. A thick accumulation of rodent excrement and accumulated debris was noted on plumbing lines situated above the cooking equipment.”
She notes that 10-litre plastic tubs of chowder were placed into a walk-in cooler once they were taken off the stove.
“At the time of inspection, the chowders in the walk-in cooler were NOT covered,” Rehbein wrote.
The health authority ordered the inspection after a diner at Crab Park Chowdery posted a video on Instagram that showed what appeared to be a dead rat in her meal. The post caused a social media uproar and resulted in numerous complaints from the public.
Problems rectified, owner says
The two inspectors who accompanied Phillips to Mamie Taylor’s noted that there was no hand-washing sink in the base kitchen area, and one of the prep tables was placed directly below a sewer line. Fixtures in the washroom weren’t operating.
The inspectors ordered Phillips to throw out all of the chowder in the kitchen. Rehbein wrote: “Food is unfit for human consumption.”
The health authority shut down Mamie Taylor’s and its commercial kitchen after the inspection. The restaurant was allowed to reopen the next day, after staff made the necessary improvements.
As a result of the rat incident, Mamie Taylor’s announced it was severing ties with Crab Park Chowdery and would no longer rent out the basement kitchen to other restaurants.
Mamie Taylor’s owner, Ron Oliver, told CBC that all of the problems in the Dec. 28 report have been rectified.
“Without tenants, without any use of the space that isn’t storage, we’re able to keep a much tighter control on what’s happening in the space that formerly housed the commissary,” he said.
He added that the restaurant has been inspected twice since the December incident and has passed both times.
Meanwhile, Crab Park Chowdery announced it was closing for good in January.
Read the Vancouver Coastal Health inspection report:
The RFU will not announce a successor to Eddie Jones this year, even though the England head coach could leave after this autumn’s World Cup.
The Australian is contracted until 2021 but may leave after the tournament in Japan, which concludes in November.
His contract also has a break clause if England do not make the semi-finals.
However RFU interim boss Nigel Melville says it is not lining up a big-hitter such as departing Wales coach Warren Gatland to take over post-Japan.
“We don’t want distractions going into the World Cup,” Melville told BBC Sport. “We will make an appointment after the World Cup. Eddie’s future is in his own hands.
“He hasn’t told me he is leaving, so that means he is staying – 2021 is his contract.”
Melville says Gatland, who has also led the past two British and Irish Lions tours, is in a “pool of world-class coaches” the RFU would be interested in but that there have been no conversations about the Kiwi making a dramatic move to Twickenham following the World Cup.
But while the RFU risks missing out on a high-profile replacement for Jones if it continues to deliberate, Melville is confident the process is in hand.
“That’s for [the media] to be concerned about. We will be in a good place,” Melville added. “We don’t want to make a song and dance about this.
“We know who we are looking at and we will continue to move forward without the glare of publicity and people trying to make our decisions for us.”
While the majority of Jones’ backroom staff are out of contract after the World Cup, Melville has revealed forwards coach Steve Borthwick is on a continuing contract with the RFU, meaning he is tied to England for the long-term.
This strengthens the former England captain’s hand, making him a genuine contender to step up to replace Jones at some point in the coming years.
“Steve is a member of the union and a staff member,” Melville said.
‘Eddie being Eddie’
Regardless of his future with England, Jones has ruled himself out of coaching the Lions in 2021, saying the role is an “ambassador job”.
“The last thing I want to do is spend eight weeks in a blazer,” he told the Brisbane Courier Mail.
Melville says he does not think Jones was being disrespectful to previous Lions coaches with his comments.
“It’s just Eddie being Eddie,” Melville explained.
“He doesn’t think the Lions is a fit for him, and that’s his choice.”
Nations Championship both ‘exciting and concerning’
Melville says World Rugby’s vision for the Nations Championship is “very good and very strong”, but says the Six Nations unions share “huge concerns” about the commercial damage relegation from the competition’s top tier could bring.
The proposed world league would globalise the international game and create a year-round tournament between teams in both hemispheres.
But it would require the Six Nations unions not only to embrace promotion and relegation, but also to abandon both ‘Project Light’ – a plan for them to pool their commercial resources – as well as reject offers from private equity firms to buy a stake in the Championship.
Melville says the Six Nations “absolutely” have a duty to support the global game, but the unions are “united in their concerns”.
“We all have a responsibility for the growth of the game, at Tier 1, at Tier 2, and in our own communities,” he added.
“Promotion and relegation from the Six Nations is all well and good as long as you have a [strong] Tier 2 tournament to drop into. Without that, and even with that, there are huge commercials concerns.
“Those commercial concerns could mean we haven’t got the money to put back into the community game to grow the game, and as a union that’s the priority.”
The RFU will hold a board meeting on Wednesday to discuss its position, while World Rugby wants an answer in the coming weeks about whether the Nations Championship could be given the green light.
“In two weeks we have to decide the way we move forward,” Melville said.
“We don’t want to throw away good ideas; we want to use good ideas and build on it and make something better for the future of the game.
“As a board we will meet to talk about our position and toss the ideas around, which ideas are most important to us, and which ideas would be the red lines to get in the way of it happening.”
SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is walking back a statement by its chief executive officer, who said last week he never cited the protection of 9,000 Canadian jobs as a reason the construction giant should be granted a remediation agreement.
Neil Bruce told The Canadian Press last Wednesday that if SNC-Lavalin is convicted of criminal charges and barred from bidding on federal contracts its workers would end up working for the Montreal-based company’s foreign rivals.
“We have never put forward anything that is purely an economic argument about jobs and why we think we qualify for a DPA (deferred prosecution agreement),” he said in an interview. “We put forward an argument in terms of the public interest.”
The charges stem from allegations the engineering firm paid millions of dollars in bribes to win government business in Libya between 2001 and 2011.
In a statement posted to its website Monday afternoon, SNC-Lavalin says it never threatened the federal government.
“However, the company had made it very clear to the government through its advocacy campaign that the implementation of a remediation agreement — known as a deferred prosecution agreement — was the best way to protect and grow the almost 9,000 direct Canadian SNC-Lavalin jobs, as well as thousands of indirect jobs through its more than 5,000 suppliers across Canada. The company still asserts this position.”
It added that an agreement is not “a get out of jail free card,” as a few commentators have stated.
“It is an internationally recognized tool for protecting innocent stakeholders from the criminal actions of a few bad actors in a company.”
Chile copper mine cancels SNC contract
SNC said countries around the world have made this tool available to their prosecution and that Canada was at a competitive disadvantage until it passed its own version of the DPA.
“If the remediation agreement is not available to SNC-Lavalin, the company will continue to vigorously pursue a path that allows it to move forward and defend its innocent employees to the fullest as it moves forward through the Canadian court system.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly held up potential job losses as the main reason he and other top officials spoke with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould about her decision not to intervene after federal prosecutors declined to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement with SNC-Lavalin.
Wilson-Raybould, who resigned from cabinet last month, has suggested political considerations rather than jobs were behind the alleged pressuring by the Prime Minister’s Office to hammer out an agreement with the company.
Earlier Monday, Chile’s state-owned copper mining company said it has terminated its contract with SNC-Lavalin, accusing the construction giant of breaching its obligations.
Codelco said SNC-Lavalin failed to live up to its commitments under a $260-million US contract attached to one of the world’s largest open pit copper mine, citing quality issues and delays in subcontractor payments and project execution.
The contract, awarded in November 2016, included engineering, supply and construction of two new acid plants for a smelter at the Chuquicamata mine in northern Chile.
The announcement from Codelco comes after SNC-Lavalin slashed its profit forecast twice in two weeks earlier this year, stemming largely from problems with the project and plunging SNC’s share price to 10-year lows of around $34.
SNC-Lavalin announced last month it had agreed to settle a dispute with the Chilean state miner through a fast-tracked arbitration process, which it expected would yield “significant recoveries in the future” on losses of about $350 million.
The project cancellation “likely means relations between the two companies have further soured” and could make clawing back any losses more “difficult” during arbitration, analyst Derek Spronck of RBC Dominion Securities said in a research note.
SNC-Lavalin did not respond immediately to requests for comment about the contract termination.
The justices will hear two cases Tuesday challenging congressional maps drawn to limit one party’s political power.
For the second straight year, the Supreme Court has an opportunity to establish limits on partisan gerrymandering — or go the other direction and send mapmakers an anything-goes message ahead of the 2020 census.
Republicans used their power over redistricting in many states after the 2010 election to cement control of the House of Representatives and state governments for most of the next decade. Limiting that power has become a rallying cry on the left before the next round of political map-drawing in 2021.
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On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will scrutinize political maps in two states where lawmakers have openly admitted they drew congressional lines earlier this decade to favor one party, a practice that the court has long considered reining in.
In North Carolina, Republicans explicitly sought to ensure the GOP would control 10 of the state’s 13 House districts. In Maryland, Democrats openly targeted a long-time Republican congressman, altering the lines of his district to defeat him and give Democrats a 7-1 advantage in the state.
But a year ago, the Supreme Court declined an earlier chance to strike down Maryland’s congressional map or dictate firm guidelines about how far is too far when it comes to partisan gerrymandering. And one pivotal figure will be missing from this year’s cases: retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had looked skeptically at districts drawn for partisan advantage but never assembled a majority to set standards policing partisan map-drawing.
With Kennedy replaced on the bench by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, most experts agree new limits on gerrymandering are no more likely this time around.
“There are many plausible ways that the court could create a test and police those partisan gerrymanders,” said Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California-Irvine who also runs the popular Election Law Blog. “The bigger question is whether there’s the will among five justices to do that.”
Opponents of partisan gerrymandering believe the court — despite its new, more conservative lineup — might be willing to crack down because the Maryland and North Carolina cases present such blatant examples of mapmaking to benefit one party.
“The cases that are teed up before the court now mark something of a new extreme of candor … in seeking partisan advantage,” said Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt. “They don’t have to try to figure out what the legislature was doing here. The legislature said what it was doing.”
In Maryland, a lower court ruled the day after the 2018 election that Maryland violated the First Amendment rights of GOP voters in the state’s 6th District when it redrew the lines to flip the seat away from then-Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), who had held it for two decades. “That was my hope,” former Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a 2017 deposition. “It was also my intent to create … a district where the people would be more likely to elect a Democrat than a Republican.”
The seat has remained in Democratic hands since John Delaney, now running for the Democratic presidential nomination, defeated Bartlett in 2012.
In North Carolina, federal judges had previously struck down congressional lines for unconstitutionally diluting the voting power of African-Americans by packing as many of them as possible into just two congressional districts. But when the state’s Republican legislators redrew the map in 2016, state Rep. David Lewis said the GOP should “draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats” — one of the pieces of evidence that led federal judges to strike down the new map as a partisan gerrymander.
“The case presents the most extreme, overt and brutal partisan gerrymander this court — or any other court — has ever seen,” said Emmet Bondurant, the attorney for Common Cause, which sued to have the North Carolina map thrown out.
But Jason Torchinsky, an attorney with the National Republican Redistricting Trust, a GOP group, said the Supreme Court shouldn’t try to take politics out of the redistricting process, as long as legislators don’t draw complicated districts that split cities and counties or aren’t otherwise logical.
“Is drawing for political success okay? As long as you’ve respected other districting principles, I think the answer is yes,” said Torchinsky.
Ultimately, experts say there are four justices eager to crack down on partisan gerrymandering: the court’s liberal bloc of Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
On the other side, Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch have been skeptical of judicial efforts to police gerrymandering. So has Chief Justice John Roberts — who has emerged as more of consensus-builder in recent years but also voted in the majority in two key election cases as chief, striking down elements of the Voting Rights Act in a 2013 case and campaign-finance law in the Citizens United ruling.
Kavanaugh, who was an appellate judge for the District of Columbia Circuit prior to his elevation to the Supreme Court, hasn’t ruled on a major redistricting case, making him something of a wild card.
An expansive ruling striking down partisan gerrymanders “now seems much less likely given the change of the composition of the court,” said Hasen. “It’s really going to come down to Roberts and Kavanaugh.”
The Maryland and North Carolina cases are Benisek v. Lamone (18-726) and Rucho v. Common Cause (18-422), respectively.
While these cases have worked their way through the federal court system, a number of states have moved to limit the role of politics in redistricting. Just last year, voters in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Utah approved ballot initiatives reforming the redistricting process, while Ohio lawmakers enacted a law overhauling that state’s redistricting process.
The political fight around the cases is bringing together reformers from both parties. Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, and Larry Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, co-authored an op-ed in Monday’s Washington Post under the headline, “Politicians can’t be trusted to draw electoral maps.”
But opponents of gerrymandering worry that a high court ruling this year that permits district maps drawn to maximize partisan advantage — or even another punt, like last year — will give both parties free rein to craft political lines in most states after the 2020 Census. The data and technology available giving politicians better tools than ever to choose their voters, they say, rather than the other way around.
“If the court doesn’t step in here, then what you saw in North Carolina and what you saw in Maryland is the new normal. It becomes ‘Mad Max’ territory,” said Levitt. “It is abundantly clear that the legislators can’t police themselves.”