President Biden is urging the Senate to swiftly pass the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, after West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s surprise announcement this week that he would support a budget reconciliation package to combat the climate crisis while lowering healthcare costs. The legislation represents just a fraction of the more than $3 trillion sought by progressive Democrats in 2020, but Biden said Thursday the deal would still be the most important climate legislation ever passed by Congress.
President Joe Biden: “This bill is far from perfect. It’s a compromise. But it is — it’s often how progress is made: by compromises. … This bill would be the most significant legislation in history to tackle the climate crisis and improve our energy security right away.”
The package includes nearly $370 billion in new spending on climate and energy over the next 10 years. But environmentalists warn it contains “poison pills” for the climate, like a requirement that the Interior Department open up millions of acres of public lands to new oil and gas development as a prerequisite to installing any new solar or wind energy. The Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement, “The new leasing required in this bill will fan the flames of the climate disasters torching our country, and it’s a slap in the face to the communities fighting to protect themselves from filthy fossil fuels.” We’ll have more on the emerging legislation later in the broadcast.
In eastern Kentucky, at least eight people are dead after torrential rains brought flooding and mudslides to the region, washing out bridges and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses. Rescue crews in inflatable boats fanned out to search for survivors, some of whom fled to their rooftops as floodwaters rose around them. On Thursday, up to seven inches of rain fell on parts of Kentucky, and Governor Andy Beshear said the death toll could continue to rise.
Gov. Andy Beshear: “In a word, this event is devastating. And I do believe it will end up being one of the most significant, deadly floods that we have had in Kentucky in at least a very long time.”
Meanwhile, millions of U.S. residents face heat advisories again this weekend, including in the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures rose to triple digits again on Thursday.
The House of Representatives has sent the White House a $280 billion bill to support the U.S. semiconductor industry. Once signed by President Biden, the CHIPS Act will provide more than $76 billion in subsidies to corporations that produce semiconductor chips in the United States. All but one House Democrat voted in favor of the bill on Thursday. The vote came after Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders blasted the legislation as corporate welfare for a handful of wealthy high-tech companies.
On Capitol Hill, military veterans and their supporters erupted in anger Thursday after Senate Republicans blocked a bill to aid former U.S. servicemembers poisoned by toxic waste. The bill would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to remove the burden of proof from vets who say their health problems are related to the Pentagon’s use of toxic “burn pits” in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey — who’s set to retire at the end of the year — blocked the bill, after it initially received 84 votes in the 100-seat Senate. That prompted an angry response from comedian Jon Stewart, a leading advocate for veterans.
Jon Stewart: “Senate’s where accountability goes to die. These people don’t care. They’re never losing their jobs. They’re never losing their healthcare. Pat Toomey didn’t lose his job; he’s walking away. God knows what kind of pot of gold he’s stepping into to lobby this government to shit on more people. … I’m used to all of it, but I am not used to the cruelty.”
In eastern Ukraine, Russia’s military says an attack by Ukrainian forces using a U.S.-made advanced missile system has killed 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war and wounded dozens of others. Ukraine denied its forces carried out the attack in separatist-held territory, and instead blamed Russia for the strike on a prison housing the POWs. Meanwhile, United Nations officials say they’re hopeful that a U.N.- and Turkey-brokered deal to safely export grain from blockaded Ukrainian ports could begin as early as today.
The White House says President Biden spoke with Chinese leader Xi Jinping by telephone for over two hours on Thursday, at a time of rising tensions between Washington and Beijing. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the talks were aimed at restoring the U.S.-China relationship. The pair reportedly discussed climate change, human rights, counternarcotics and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: “And then on Taiwan, President Biden underscored that the United States policy has not changed and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
After the call, China’s Foreign Ministry said Xi warned Biden over U.S. support for Taiwan, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s planned visit to the island in August. Xi was quoted as saying, “Those who play with fire will perish by it.”
West Virginia’s Republican-led state Senate is debating a bill today that would ban nearly all abortions while making abortion care a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. West Virginia’s House of Delegates approved the bill Wednesday after hearing testimony from 90 members of the public who were allotted 45 seconds each. This is Addison Gardner, the youngest speaker.
Addison Gardner: “I am 12 years old. I attend Buffalo Middle School. I play for varsity volleyball, and I run track. My education is very important to me, and I plan on doing great things in life. If a man decides that I’m an object and does unspeakable and tragic things to me, am I, a child, supposed to carry and birth another child? Am I to put my body through the physical trauma of pregnancy? Am I to suffer the mental implications, a child who had no say in what was being done with my body? Some here say they are pro-life. What about my life?”
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has made his first public comments since authoring the majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which struck down federal abortion rights under Roe v. Wade. Alito spoke on July 21 at the Notre Dame Religious Liberty Summit in Rome, in remarks that were made public on Thursday.
Justice Samuel Alito: “I had the honor this term of writing, I think, the only Supreme Court decision in the history of that institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders who felt perfectly fine commenting on American law. One of these was former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but he paid the price.”
In June, Boris Johnson called Alito’s majority opinion striking down Roe v. Wade a “backward step” for women’s rights. Alito’s other critics include Prince Harry, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called the ruling overturning abortion rights “horrific.”
The United States Coast Guard says at least five people drowned and 66 others were rescued off the coast of Puerto Rico Thursday after they were forced off their boat by human smugglers. Most of the survivors are Haitian. They were handcuffed by Customs and Border Protection officers as they were taken into custody. Their rescue came just days after 17 Haitian migrants died off the coast of the Bahamas when their boat capsized. This week, rival gangs in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince continued to wage intense gun battles in the impoverished neighborhood of Cité Soleil, where the U.N. warns the number of killings this year is fast approaching 1,000.
In Veracruz, Mexico, scores of migrants who were left by human smugglers in an abandoned freight trailer on the side of a highway had to break their way out to avoid suffocation. On Wednesday, people at a nearby gas station discovered the migrants after they bashed holes in the trailer’s roof. Medics treated survivors for knee and ankle injuries.
Cristóbal Cisneros Valencia: “We were told there were close to 400 immigrants traveling in the trailer. When they started to feel suffocated, they broke through the roof of the trailer, and most of them jumped out. That is why most of the injuries we treated were ankle and knee fractures.”
The migrants are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. This comes a month after 53 migrants from Central America and Mexico died in San Antonio, Texas, after they were left in a sweltering, abandoned trailer.
In Massachusetts, workers at a Trader Joe’s outlet in the town of Hadley have become the first to organize a union at the grocery chain. Workers voted 45 to 31 to join the newly formed Trader Joe’s United, overcoming what organizers said was a relentless union-busting campaign. Trader Joe’s workers in at least two other states have also launched union organizing drives.
In Canada, Indigenous protesters confronted Pope Francis Thursday as he prepared to celebrate Mass inside Canada’s national shrine in Quebec City. The protest came as the pontiff continued his tour of Canada to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s brutal “Indian residential school” system, which saw an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children taken from their families and placed in distant boarding schools, where they often suffered sexual and physical abuse. More than 4,000 children died. On Thursday, two Anishinaabe protesters unfurled a large banner reading “rescind the doctrine” just as Pope Francis was starting Mass. Their sign was a reference to the 15th century “Doctrine of Discovery” used by the Catholic Church to justify the European colonization of Indigenous lands.