As Trump Continues Killing Spree, Pressley Leads Call for Biden to Immediately Abolish Death Penalty 

As Trump Continues Killing Spree, Pressley Leads Call for Biden to Immediately Abolish Death Penalty

“Your historic election with record turnout represents a national mandate to make meaningful progress in reforming our unjust and inhumane criminal legal system,” wrote the lawmakers to Biden.

By Julia Conley

More than 40 Democratic lawmakers joined Rep. Ayanna Pressley late Tuesday in calling on President-elect Joe Biden to immediately abolish the federal death penalty upon taking office next month, bringing an end to a period of six months in which President Donald Trump has overseen more federal executions of people “than the total number executed over the previous six decades.”

Biden is opposed to capital punishment and has pledged to abolish its use at the federal level. In Pressley’s letter, the lawmaker emphasizes that Biden must make the policy change a top priority after January 20, when he will take office.

“The sheer number of executions set the Trump administration apart as an outlier in the use of capital punishment, compared both to the historical practices of American presidencies and the contemporary practices of the states in the Union.”
—Death Penalty Information Center

“With a stroke of your pen, you can stop all federal executions, prohibit United States Attorneys from seeking the death penalty, dismantle death row at [Federal Correctional Complex] Terre Haute, and call for the resentencing of people who are currently sentenced to death,” Pressley wrote. 

The letter was signed by lawmakers including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Recently elected Reps.-elect Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) also signed the document.

The president is in the midst of what The Guardian called an “execution spree,” having killed three people—Orlando Hall, Brandon Bernard, and Alfred Bourgeois—since losing the presidential election on November 3. Before Biden takes office, Trump is planning to put to death inmates Lisa Montgomery, Corey Johnson, and Dustin Higgs. 

Trump is the first president to carry out the death penalty during a lame-duck session since 1889, when President Grover Cleveland executed a Native American named Richard Smith. 

Pressley sent the letter to Biden as the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) released a year-end report showing that Trump has killed more people in 2020 than all states that have carried out executions, combined—an unprecedented use of the death penalty by the federal government. 

Seven state executions were carried out in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas this year, while the president has killed 10 people since July, when he resumed the use of the federal death penalty after 17 years. 

“The sheer number of executions set the Trump administration apart as an outlier in the use of capital punishment, compared both to the historical practices of American presidencies and the contemporary practices of the states in the Union,” the DPIC wrote. “In addition, the details of the cases and the highly politicized manner in which they were carried out revealed significant problems in the application of the federal death penalty.”

 

The people Trump has put to death and plans to execute before his term is over—five Black men and one white woman—have been the subject of calls by global human rights advocates, prosecutors, and former jurors who have pleaded with the administration for clemency. 

Montgomery is the survivor of lifelong sexual and physical abuse and was experiencing psychosis, according to her lawyers, when she commited a murder in 2004. Bernard was 18 when he was involved in a kidnapping and killing of a couple in Texas, did not fire the gun that killed the victims, and has shown remorse for his crime. Bourgeois’s lawyers argue that he has a severe intellectual disability.  

“Capital punishment is unjust, racist, and defective,” Rep. Connolly said in a press release on Tuesday. “The United States stands alone among its peers in executing its own citizens, a barbaric punishment that denies the dignity and humanity of all people and is disproportionately applied to people who are Black, Latinx, and poor. For example, Black people make up less than 13% of the nation’s population while accounting for more than 42% of those on death row.” 

Trump’s executions have sparked outcry on social media in recent weeks.

National polls in recent years have seen support for capital punishment fall to record lows; 60% of respondents told Gallup in a survey in October 2019 that they preferred the use of life prison sentences over the death penalty, and a year earlier only 49% of Americans said they believed the death penalty was applied fairly.

“Your historic election with record turnout represents a national mandate to make meaningful progress in reforming our unjust and inhumane criminal legal system,” wrote the lawmakers to Biden. “Ending the barbaric practice of government-sanctioned murder is a commonsense step that you can and must take to save lives.”

Source: As Trump Continues Killing Spree, Pressley Leads Call for Biden to Immediately Abolish Death Penalty | Common Dreams News

 

 

Sanders Says Congress ‘Cannot Go Home for Christmas Holidays’ Without Delivering $1,200 Direct Payments

Sanders Says Congress ‘Cannot Go Home for Christmas Holidays’ Without Delivering $1,200 Direct Payments

“Congress should be working 24 hours, seven days a week until we pass a bill that provides emergency assistance to the American people in their time of need.”

By Jake Johnson

Making clear that he is opposed to the latest iteration of a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill making the rounds on Capitol Hill, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday said he remains committed to doing everything in his power to ensure Congress does not leave town for holiday recess without passing legislation containing direct payments to struggling Americans.

“As a result of the pandemic, tens of millions of Americans are facing economic desperation,” the Vermont senator said in a statement Monday, just ahead of the release of the newly updated the compromise package. “They can’t afford to pay their rent and face eviction, they can’t afford to go to the doctor, they can’t afford to feed their children and they are going deeper and deeper into debt.”

“What kind of negotiation is it when you go from $3.4 trillion [in the House-passed HEROES Act] to $188 billion in new money? That is not a negotiation. That is a collapse.”
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

“Congress cannot go home for the Christmas holidays until we pass legislation which provides a $1,200 direct payment to working class adults, $2,400 for couples, and a $500 payment to their children,” Sanders continued. “This is what Democrats and Republicans did unanimously in March through the CARES Act. This is what we have to do today.”

Led by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and others, the bipartisan group is set Monday to unveil their coronavirus relief proposal in two parts, neither of which contains the direct stimulus checks that Sanders, dozens of Democrats in the House and Senate, and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are demanding.

The Washington Post reported Monday that “the first bill to be released by the bipartisan group is a $748 billion package that includes new unemployment benefits, small business aid, and other programs that received broad bipartisan support,” including funding for vaccine distribution efforts and education. The first bill only includes $188 billion in new spending, with the rest coming from unused CARES Act funds.

“What a cruel joke,” Warren Gunnels, Sanders’ staff director, tweeted in response to the updated bipartisan plan.

The second bill, according to the Post, is a roughly $160 billion package that would include liability protection for businesses and state and local aid. This measure proved much more divisive for negotiators, and the liability shield has been broadly opposed by most Democrats.”

“Some lawmakers in the bipartisan group have suggested including another round of stimulus checks in the $740 billion proposal that excludes both the liability shield and state and local funding,” the Post reported. “Republicans have sought to keep the price-tag of the bill below $1 trillion, but if state aid is left out then lawmakers may have enough money available to include the checks. The bipartisan group has circulated various options for structuring the checks, but have remained divided on the issue and failed to reach an agreement.”

In a letter with five of his Senate Democratic colleagues last week, Sanders demanded that $1,200 direct payments for adults and $500 for children be included instead of the liability protections for corporations, which the senators denounced as a “get-out-of-jail-free card to companies that put the lives of their workers and customers at risk.”

Last Friday, as Common Dreams reported, Sanders and Hawley introduced an amendment that would provide direct payments to working class Americans and threatened to hold up a must-pass, stop-gap government funding bill in order to force a vote on the stimulus checks.

Sanders ultimately opted not to try to block the spending measure last week, and the legislation passed the Senate on Friday. But with the government set to shut down this coming Friday without passage of another spending bill, the Vermont senator said he is willing to stand in the way in his fight for direct payments.

“I am prepared to withdraw my objection at this moment,” Sanders told reporters last week. “I will not be prepared to withdraw an objection next week. We will deal with the financial crisis facing tens of millions of Americans.”

In an interview with Politico on Monday, Sanders said he has privately urged Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—who has characterized the bipartisan relief framework “the only game in town”—to reject the bipartisan group’s latest offer, describing the proposal as “totally inadequate” to meet the needs of sick, hungry, and eviction-prone Americans.

“What kind of negotiation is it when you go from $3.4 trillion [in the House-passed HEROES Act] to $188 billion in new money? That is not a negotiation. That is a collapse,” Sanders said. “We cannot go home until there [are] strong unemployment benefits plus $1,200 per adult, $500 per kid for every working person and family in this country.”

Source: Sanders Says Congress ‘Cannot Go Home for Christmas Holidays’ Without Delivering $1,200 Direct Payments | Common Dreams News

 

 

 

 

 

 

AOC Slams House Republicans for Spending Their Time Trying to Overturn Trump Loss While ‘People Are Starving’ 

AOC Slams House Republicans for Spending Their Time Trying to Overturn Trump Loss While ‘People Are Starving’

More than half of the House GOP caucus has endorsed a likely doomed-to-fail Texas lawsuit seeking to undo the results of the November presidential election.

By Jake Johnson

After 106 House Republicans on Thursday signed onto a brief supporting a last-ditch Supreme Court lawsuit attempting overturn the November election, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out her GOP colleagues for focusing their time and attention on trying to undo President Donald Trump’s decisive loss instead of working to provide relief to struggling Americans.

“House Republicans are spending critical time when people are starving and small businesses are shuttering trying to overturn the results of our election,” the New York Democrat tweeted, “but please tell us more about how ‘both sides are just as bad.'”

Led by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), more than half of the House GOP caucus on Thursday joined 18 Republican attorneys general in endorsing a likely doomed-to-fail lawsuit by Texas AG Ken Paxton, which seeks to stop the official certification electors in the key battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All four states have certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victories.

The Republicans’ move followed a pressure campaign by Trump, who has reportedly been calling GOP members of Congress and “imploring them to keep fighting and more loudly proclaim the election was stolen while pressing them on what they plan to do.”

 

As Common Dreams reported earlier Thursday, Paxton’s lawsuit has been dismissed as “garbage” by legal experts, and it is unclear whether the U.S. Supreme Court will even consider it.

While the suit is almost certain to fail, analysts and Democratic lawmakers have warned that the Republican legal challenge represents a dangerous threat to democracy—a threat that will not go away when Trump leaves office on January 20.

“They are attempting a coup in broad daylight and it should not be treated as anything less,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said Thursday.

Growing Republican support for Trump’s flailing effort to overturn his election defeat comes amid worsening public health and economic crises that have left tens of millions of people across the U.S. desperate for relief. With an estimated 26 million Americans struggling to afford food in the absence of help from the deadlocked federal government, people are increasingly turning to shoplifting to obtain basic necessities.

“It wasn’t malicious,” said one young mother who has recently resorted to sneaking food into her child’s stroller while grocery shopping. “We were hungry.”

Source: AOC Slams House Republicans for Spending Their Time Trying to Overturn Trump Loss While ‘People Are Starving’ | Common Dreams News