WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy postponed a key procedural vote Tuesday on a measure aimed at averting a government shutdown, as Republican leaders continued to try to appease hard-right members of the party. The vote was postponed because the House GOP conference has not been able to unite behind a short-term funding bill proposed by several conservatives as a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government looms.
The procedural vote, originally scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, would have been a key step toward passing the stopgap funding measure out of the House, even if it was likely to be rejected by the Senate. McCarthy, a California Republican, has repeatedly urged House Republicans to pass something so they can start negotiating with the Senate and secure some policy victories on spending cuts and border security. But at least a dozen hard-right lawmakers — angry over what they say is a lack of information on lowering top-line budget numbers and assurances that the Senate will adhere to their fiscal demands — have stymied efforts to pass the 30-day funding bill.
In a shift Tuesday morning, some hard-right Republicans who had helped craft the short-term funding deal over the weekend, including Freedom Caucus chairman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, expressed openness to making changes to the package to appease the holdouts in their party. Others who helped strike the deal, including Main Street Caucus chair Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, said that holdouts would come around and support the conservative measure — which includes cuts and a border security proposal for which Republicans have previously voted — once they took the time to understand what was in it.
Trying to get all but four Republicans to back a short-term funding bill has proven to be a herculean effort for the conference, which has faced objections from far-right lawmakers who are making demands that the conference has little to no time to address. Though lawmakers across the ideological spectrum spent a majority of Tuesday huddling to find a path forward on a stopgap bill, whatever is agreed upon will probably be rejected by the Senate, with a little over a week to go until the government is shut down.
The effort previews the overall difficulty Republican leadership has to ensure they can fund the government for a full fiscal year. Doing so carries demands by hard-right lawmakers and threatens vulnerable incumbents representing districts President Biden won because they would have to vote on scores of cuts that could negatively impact their swing-district constituents.
Conversations within the House Republican conference were far less contentious Tuesday than last week, when tensions came to a boil and McCarthy reportedly dared his detractors to remove him from the speakership. Even so, Republicans are beginning to recognize that time to avert a shutdown and avoid blame for it if it happens is running out, causing many pragmatic and moderate lawmakers to begin drafting contingency plans, some of which involve compromising with Democrats. WASHINGTON POST
Giuliani sued by ex-lawyer over nonpayment of fees
NEW YORK — Rudy Giuliani, already under criminal indictment and at risk of losing his law license for his effort to keep Donald Trump in office after the 2020 election, is being sued by his own lawyer.
The lawyer, Robert Costello, who had been leading Giuliani’s defense against an onslaught of legal woes, signed onto the lawsuit brought by his firm Monday to recover more than $1.3 million in unpaid legal fees. The development deals a stunning blow to Giuliani, as he nears a financial breaking point.
Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, ex-US attorney, and onetime high-flying litigator, owes nearly $3 million to various law firms, including the one where Costello is a partner, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Giuliani had repeatedly sought a financial lifeline from his client, Trump, who had offered vague promises to pay up but had largely refused to do so.
Much of what Giuliani owes arose from his work for Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Giuliani racked up legal bills while battling an array of criminal and congressional investigations, private lawsuits and disciplinary proceedings that cast a harsh light on his bid to keep Trump in office in spite of his election loss.
The lawsuit from Costello and his firm, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, represents a new low for Giuliani and, in his eyes, something of a personal betrayal.
The two men have known each other for a half-century; Costello trained as a law student under Giuliani, who at the time was a federal prosecutor in Manhattan. They became friends and, for the past four years, Costello was Giuliani’s loyal and pugilistic defender against a drumbeat of legal scrutiny.
In a statement provided by a spokesperson, Giuliani lashed out at Costello and the lawsuit, portraying it as an overly aggressive attempt to collect.
“I can’t express how personally hurt I am by what Bob Costello has done,” Giuliani said. “It’s a real shame when lawyers do things like this, and all I will say is that their bill is way in excess to anything approaching legitimate fees.”
Reached by phone, Costello initially declined to comment but fired back after hearing Giuliani’s statement, asking, “How can he take a personal affront when he owes my firm nearly $1.4 million?” NEW YORK TIMES
Key battleground state to ease voter registration
Pennsylvania, a battleground state that could play an outsize role in the 2024 presidential election, will begin to automatically register new voters as part of its driver’s license and state ID approval process, officials said Tuesday.
The program, which was announced by Governor Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, is similar to those offered in 23 other states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Voters must meet certain eligibility requirements, which include being a US citizen and a Pennsylvania resident for at least 30 days before an election. They also must be at least 18 years old on the date of the next election.
In the 2020 election and the midterm races last year, Pennsylvania was a hotbed of falsehoods about voter fraud, promoted by former president Trump and his allies. Republicans in the state have mounted a series of unsuccessful legal challenges over voters’ eligibility and absentee ballots that did not have dates written on their return envelopes, which a state law requires.
While voting rights groups heralded Pennsylvania’s steps to expand access to the polls, Trump’s loyalists attacked them and sought to sow further distrust about voting integrity in the state. NEW YORK TIMES
Figure at center of Jan. 6 conspiracy theory faces charges
Ray Epps, an Arizona man who became a focus of a conspiracy theory that the federal government ignited the US Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, has been charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct that day and apparently will plead guilty on Wednesday, court records show.
As mobs of supporters of then-president Trump stormed the Capitol, Epps, 62, was captured on video, in camouflage and a red Trump baseball hat, at the front lines of rioters near the Peace Circle on Jan. 6. The initial lack of a criminal charge against him led conspiracy theorists to repeatedly argue that he was an agent provocateur, encouraging rioters to attack police and overrun the Capitol at the government’s behest.
Epps owned a ranch in Arizona where he hosted weddings, but he has since said he was forced to sell it. He said he went to the rally because he felt the election had been stolen from Trump, but did not participate in any violence, including the first breach of external barriers by rioters at the Peace Circle. After officers were overrun and bicycle racks discarded, Epps joined the mob rushing toward the Capitol, though he did not ultimately enter the building.
The Capitol attack delayed the formal counting of electoral votes by a joint session of Congress, which confirmed Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential race.
Fox News repeatedly singled out Epps as a possible government agent in stoking the anger of the crowd, leading public officials such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida to publicly cite him. In July, Epps sued Fox News and one of its former hosts, Tucker Carlson, for defamation. WASHINGTON POST
Former congressman gets prison term for insider trading
NEW YORK — A former Indiana congressman was sentenced Tuesday to 22 months in prison for his insider trading conviction for making illegal stock trades while working as a consultant and lobbyist.
Steve Buyer, 64, whose congressional career stretched from 1993 to 2011, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by Judge Richard M. Berman. The judge also ordered Buyer to forfeit $354,027, representing the amount of illegal gains, and to pay a $10,000 fine.
The judge said Buyer’s conviction by a jury in March was not a close call because the case against him “screams guilty,” and he concluded that Buyer lied when he testified at his trial about when he learned about mergers that he profited from.
Berman noted that he had previously rejected claims that Buyer, a Republican, was unjustly prosecuted or that he could not obtain a fair trial in Manhattan because the population of New York City favors Democrats. Berman named six suburban counties outside of the city where jurors were also drawn from.
Buyer, a lawyer and Persian Gulf War veteran, once chaired the House Veterans’ Affairs committee and was a House prosecutor at ex-President Bill Clinton’s 1998 impeachment trial.
Buyer was convicted in connection with insider trading involving the $26.5 billion merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, announced in April 2018, and illegal trades in the management consulting company Navigant when his client Guidehouse was set to acquire it in a deal publicly disclosed weeks later. ASSOCIATED PRESS